All across Canadian offices, you see and hear the symptoms of virus season. Your colleague hacks. The receptionist reaches for a tissue. And your client has cancelled your meeting.
Are you ready to protect yourself and to make sure your family stays healthy?
Every year one-third of all Canadians will suffer from influenza or one of its varieties, like the contagious colds and the fearless flu.
F.A.C.T.S. is an acronym to help you identify the flu. F is for fever, A for aches, C for chills, T for tiredness and S for suddenly.
At any time, you can be exposed to almost fifty infections a day. If you are within six feet of an infected patient, even if you do not see it, you could be in contact with ten to one hundred million viruses! Visible or microscopic, these droplets contaminate you when someone coughs or sneezes. A few thousand drops are all to you need to “catch it” Yikes!
To protect yourself, those you love, and your work team, here are eight guidelines for flu season.
Notice: YOU probably know and observe these guidelines. Good for you and thank you! To keep yourself and colleagues’ virus free, post and share these tips.
1. Get the flu shot.
It is the most effective way to protect you and your real-life network from contagiously catching viruses.
2. Prepare your seasonal emergency kit.
It includes: tissues, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, lozenges. Vicks VapoRub stick, and even a mask. The mask will protect you when travelling on planes or when visiting loved ones in the hospital.
As a professional speaker, for when you have a drippy nose, I recommend a couple of sniffs of the menthol ointment. It works great and dries me up for up to two hours.
Be ready to share supplies when needed.
What to do if: Your colleague is coughing and sneezing in his hand.
“I can see that you are not feeling too well. May I offer you a tissue?”
3. Stop your spray from spreading.
Cough and sneeze in your elbow. This method will shield others from your droplets.
If you have time to reach for a tissue, use it. Blow your nose once discreetly. That’s it. Don’t take the time clean up your nasal cavities and do not, look at what is inside the tissue… Save that for your alone time. Throw it away immediately after using it. A stored tissue will keep the germs alive for two hours. Really! And never, ever, blow your nose at the table.
Keep yourself clear of germs by rubbing hand sanitizer after each flare up.
Along the same lines never double dip.
4. Wash your hands regularly.
A virus will live in your hands until you wash them or use sanitizer. Remember, the required amount of time you should spend fooaming up, is equivalent to the singing of Happy Birthday.
5. Don’t go to work.
Stay home. Think of all the people that you could infect and the loss of productivity that it could entail.
If you are an employer be grateful for the employees that show consideration by calling in sick. Do not reward or encourage employees that wear their illness at work like a badge of honour.
Staying home also applies to your children who should be kept home from school or daycare, when they display symptoms. Children constantly touch their runny noses. They play with their mouths. They rub their eyes. And perpetually touch toys, teddy bears and pother toddlers. Other parents and the care givers will thank you.
Although it is generally impolite to cancel an accepted invitation, when you are sick, it just a common courtesy to inform your host of your ailments. A gracious host will appreciate your benevolence.
What to do if: You get up congested and feverish on the day of an accepted invitation.
“Julie, I always enjoy attending your get-togethers but unfortunately I won’t be able to join you this evening. I got up with flu symptoms, so it is probably best for me to stay home.”
6. Regularly sanitize communal objects.
Use a disinfecting spray on doorknobs, light switches and railings. Give shared office supplies, such as the clicker for slide shows, a quick rub with a disinfecting wipe.
7. Forego the usual greetings.
Because symptoms can appear suddenly, it is acceptable to waive the customary handshake.
What to do if: You are being introduced to a new colleague. You are not feeling too well and think it best not to shake his hand.
“It is very nice to meet you. Please excuse me for not shaking hands. I am not feeling very well.” You can accompany your words by placing your right hand on your heart while bowing slightly your head.
The above technique can also be used when you choose not to shake hands because you have noticed the other’s symptoms.
If you cannot bring yourself to declining a hand shake, wash them frequently and apply sanitizer before and/or after making contact.
8. Share and post this blog.
Place it where all can see it: on social media or on the office fridge. This silent reminder is a civil way of spreading the word, not the germs.
Practicing cold and flu etiquette guidelines is much more than not spreading germs. It is a matter of civility and good citizenship.
If you are sick and am staying home alone, reward yourself for your contribution to a healthier world. Indulge in one of your little guilty pleasures: a bubble bath, watching your favorite movie or sipping on a hot cocoa.