H3N2 is the flu strain of the year, meeting its predicted expectations of causing infection rates to rise. In fact, by the end of 2014, 166 outbreaks were reported in 8 provinces, 122 of which were in long term care facilities. This has caused overcrowding for some emergency rooms. With numbers still on the rise, what can we do to prevent contracting the contagious virus while health officials cope with this new strain? Simple preventative measures such as practicing good hygiene and sanitation goes a long way!
Here are some tips for how to ensure you remain germ free:
- Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer.
- Cough and sneeze into your arm.
- Keep your hands away from your face. The flu virus can enter the body through the eyes, nose or mouth.
- Keep common surface areas clean & disinfected. All types of bacteria and viruses can live on hard surfaces for up to 48 hours.
- Get your flu shot.
- If you get sick, stay home.
- Drink more water and STAY HEALTHY!
As business managers and building service contractors, there are also several programs that can be implemented to ensure optimal health and wellness for your employees and visitors. As the flu has been most severe for the senior population, long term care and senior living facilities must be especially attentive to maintaining effective cleaning programs in the following months.
Staying healthy during flu season means staying informed! It’s of the utmost importance that, as a healthy facility, we remain efficient in our maintenance, disinfecting, and cleaning practices. Here are some examples of how we work, as a community, to protect ourselves and each other from the spread of disease.
Education and training
High communication of cleaning processes is the most influential factor for infection control. From proper hand washing to ensuring proper cleaning procedures, maintaining a healthy and clean indoor environment will be feasible and empower those who use your facility to make appropriate choices to preserve their health as well as that of those around them. Using hand sanitizers when soap is unavailable, for example, is a great way to help prevent the spread of germs. The appropriate signage will also serve as a reminder to employees and visitors. Fostering an awareness of flu symptoms can also help prevent virus from spreading.
Disinfection helps kill infectious bacteria and viruses at the source. Following a cleaning program that encourages disinfection of critical touch points is a highly effective way of controlling the transfer of germs in highly trafficked areas and on frequently used surfaces, appliances, and devices.
Using a program that offers UL EcoLogo certified products is an excellent way of contributing to the quality of the environment within your facility while also preventing the spread of germs. Contributing to creating an improved indoor air quality will make it a healthier environment with less pollutants and therefore, less stress on your immune systems that is already working on fighting off the flu.
Taking proactive measures such as personal hygiene, training, cleaning and disinfection will help reduce the chances of contracting this years’ flu that’s “hitting us hard”.