Curbing Cold and Flu Outbreaks in Huntsville.
The new year brings Huntsville businesses a challenge every winter. And Winter 2018-19 is predicted to be worse than last year.
It’s typically challenging to make it through this time of year without catching the cold or flu. Since there are approximately 200 viruses that can cause the common cold, millions of people are affected—usually several times throughout the year. To make matters worse, a quarter of the U.S. population contracts the flu annually. And this coming year is predicted to be one of the worst flu seasons in decades. Those with the flu can also infect others beginning 1–4 days before their symptoms even develop.
In addition to making people feel under the weather, cold and flu outbreaks can result in lost productivity and may negatively affect a business’s if these outbreaks occur frequently or on a larger scale than other times of the year (think vacation time in summer).
The good news is businesses in Huntsville can use best practices, to better prepare themselves for the cold and flu season. Facilities can prepare for periods of heightened outbreaks by implementing thorough cleaning and disinfection practices.
Doing so will keep employees, students, patients, and customers safe and healthy. It will also reduce unnecessary absences and help protect you from losing revenue.
It’s important to remember that just the same as a person may look healthy but is harboring a nasty virus, a surface can look clean but still house a significant amount of pathogens. A single sneeze alone can release 40,000 droplets, which can travel through the air and land on a variety of surfaces. Some pathogens can survive on surfaces for days—even weeks or months—making the immediate environment a risk in the transmission of the cold, flu, and many other illnesses. Pathogens can be transferred when a person contacts these dirty surfaces directly, or indirectly when someone touches a person who has these pathogens present on their hands.
Curbing Cold and Flu Outbreaks in Huntsville
To reduce the spread of the cold and flu, facilities can practice and promote infection prevention tips, including:
- Proper hand hygiene. Unfortunately, not everyone follows basic hand hygiene measures. Hands can easily spread germs from one person to another or to other surfaces. Therefore, facilities should encourage everyone to get in the habit of regularly washing and sanitizing hands. When hands are dirty, individuals should wash with hot water and soap or with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Encourage influenza vaccinations. Flu cases typically spike in January and February. Although getting the influenza vaccine does not guarantee that a person will not contract the flu, it provides protection against some cases. Providing or requiring employee vaccinations can give individuals a barrier against influenza viruses that match or are related to the viruses in the vaccine.
- Educate staff on cleaning procedures. Facilities should ensure that cleaning procedures are in place. They should detail what surfaces and equipment are to be cleaned and the order in which cleaning should occur. These procedures should also describe when to perform hand hygiene; when glove use is required; the cleaners, disinfectants, and tools to use; and the appropriate frequency of cleaning and disinfection.
During times such as flu season when illnesses are acquired and spread more frequently, facilities should clean and disinfect more often and more thoroughly, then usual. This may require changing your traditional cleaning schedule to encompass more frequent cleaning of all common areas.
- Disinfect high-touch surfaces. Surfaces such as door knobs, handrails, elevator buttons, desks, keyboards, computer mice, telephones and counter tops should be disinfected regularly or when visibly soiled using a disinfectant. Employees should clean from high to low, from cleanest to dirtiest, and from dry to wet and ensure that the disinfectant remains on the surface for the appropriate dwell time.
- Promote proper illness etiquette. To further prevent the spread of the cold and flu, facilities should encourage proper etiquette among sick employees, occupants, and visitors. This includes limiting contact with others and high-touch surfaces, covering the mouth when coughing and sneezing, and disposing used tissues and paper towels. Remind people to practice these behaviors by placing signs and other communication materials in high-traffic areas such as lobbies and bathrooms.
- Ensure supplies are stocked. In some cases, people encounter a restroom without soap or paper towels, forcing them to compromise or forego their hygiene habits. Facilities should stock additional supplies of personal protective equipment, disinfectants, hand hygiene products, facial tissue, toilet tissue, trash bags, and cleaning cloths. This will encourage ongoing compliance with infection prevention strategies.
- Monitor compliance. Compliance monitoring can help a facility ensure that workers are performing tasks as expected and can help identify areas for improvement. Facilities may elect to keep track of hand washing and sanitizing habits through automated hand hygiene monitoring and compliance reporting. Fluorescent markers can be used to measure surface cleanliness rates and highlight areas that tend to be ignored or are only partially cleaned. Organizations can also track PPE usage to ensure that employees are wearing the proper protection when it is required or recommended.
As hard as people try to avoid illness, it can be nearly impossible to keep germs at bay if the places they frequent are not practicing proper cleaning and disinfection. Every facility has a responsibility to protect employees, visitors, students, patients and customers. During cold and flu season, it is even more important to have a sound infection prevention strategy in place.
If local organizations follow a set of good practices, they can reduce the frequency of outbreaks and limit the impact of those that do occur.
If you are looking for Professional Office, Commercial or Residential Cleaning Service in and around the Huntsville area, give the office cleaning experts at Clean supreme a call!
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