Remember all the hysteria about Y2K? As business owners we had to have documented plans as how to house and feed employees if there was a Y2K disaster. Well the media is stirring up similar hysteria about H1N1 also known as swine flu, well at least that is my opinion. Matt Drudge
is leading his web page with “Prepare to get sick”. Homeland Security advisor Janet Napolitano is predicting “a big influx” of swine flu and telling us all to be prepared. It seems a bit mysterious to me why Homeland Security is
talking about the flu-shouldn’t it be the CDC or the acting Surgeon General Rear Admiral Steven K. Galson, M.D., M.P.H.? I am of the opinion that since we aren’t under terrorist
attack-this is the most current, splashiest topic the media could come up with to increase ratings.
First off, be educated about the flu. It is important to understand that the annual “flu” and corresponding vaccine are not the same as H1N1. The H1N1 vaccine is supposed to be available end of September to early October 2009. Most county health districts and doctors offices have or will have “flu” vaccine by mid September 2009. It is reported that the general “flu” vaccine will give your immune system a boost to help recognize and attack other viruses so to me it seems prudent to get an annual flu vaccine. Check with your health district’s website or call the local offices to check on availability of the H1N1 vaccine.
Common Sense Goes a Long Way Toward Prevention
- WASH YOUR HANDS. According to the CDC this is the number one way to stop all spread of all infection. Yeah-sure you say you wash your hands-but did you know that several studies report the 3rd most common contaminant on computer keyboards is urine? Don’t believe me and want to get totally grossed out-check this out.
- HAND SANTIZER IS A HELPFUL #2. Make hand sanitizer available to employees. Be generous and give them personal size ones to use in their cars-it is an inexpensive investment that may save you a week of aches and fever.
- COUGH OR SNEEZE INTO THE CROOK OF YOUR ELBOW. Why not cover your mouth with your hand you ask? Go back and read #1.
- CLEAN YOUR SPACE. Use disinfecting wipes to clean your work area, include desk telephones and the computer mouse as well as doorknobs and commonly touched areas. Not convinced? This is what a hospital study showed on computer keyboards in its burn unit. My research finds that the disinfecting wipes you can buy at the grocery store are more effective than rubbing alcohol at wiping out germs.
- IF YOU ARE SICK, STAY HOME. Keep your germs to yourself. Self explanatory.
- ACT AS AN EXAMPLE FOR YOUR EMPLOYEES. Get a flu shot, Connectzone.com pay’s for employee flu shots as an incentive to stay well. For added convenience contact your local health agency and see if you can have a nurse come to your office to administer vaccine to employees. Employees and employers may also want to consider getting a vaccine for pertussis, it is preventable and on the rise in most states.
- CHILDREN COUNT. Employees who are also parents may need to leave work for a sick child this winter flu season. Make a plan for employees to work remotely from home when possible. Employees should inquire with your IT personnel about remote connections and if your company can
support you working from home. If your company doesn’t have the technology for remote connections ask if you can install a program such as Log Me In on your office PC and you can access it from home.
- STAY HOME PART II. Rather than traveling for business-if possible utilize tools such as Go To Meeting. If you read the above link about how dirty hospital keyboards imagine what lives in an airport or worse yet and airplane. Remember hospitals are trying to be sanitary and are still that dirty-airports don’t care about being sanitary.
- AVOID THE MASSES. I don’t want to contribute to hysteria but if
this flu season turns out to be as bad as predicted we should consider
avoiding crowds of people if we really don’t have to be there. It takes
some planning-but it can be done. For example-plan and execute your
Christmas shopping early before the masses descend on the malls. Better
yet-order your gifts online. Use a home delivery grocery shopping
service and avoid that icky grocery cart handle. If you do have to go
to the grocery store use the disinfecting wipes offered near the carts.
If your grocery store doesn’t offer these talk to the manager and ask
- PLAN AHEAD FOR YOURSELF AND YOUR FAMILY. Just like preparing your
emergency earthquake kit-you can prep your home for the invasion of
viruses. Even if H1N1 doesn’t find its way into your home-some virus
likely will this winter so plan ahead. If you have small children-get a
couple extra bottles of pedialyte and check the expiration date on the
Children’s Motrin. Make sure your medicine cabinet has adult
ibuphrophen, cough syrup and Imodium-all things you don’t want to have
to go to the store for at 1AM. I believe it worth the investment to
have tissues with lotion around as well as popsicles, 7-UP and soda
crackers. If you or your child has immune problems or underlying
medical conditions such as Asthma-ask your doctor about their
recommendations on when to go to the doctor if you get sick or when to
go to the emergency room. Recall hospitals are dirty places-don’t go if
you don’t have to.
KNOW THE HYPE. When you read an article projecting the H1N1 is going
to kill between 30-90 thousand Americans this winter, know that the flu
kills about 45 thousand Americans every year. When you read that it
will kill mostly small children, elderly, those with underlying medical
conditions and immune compromised individuals, understand that is the
geographic group that always falls victim to the flu and usually has
more severe complications. For the rest of us it is just a really icky
week of achy joints, coughing, sneezing and fever. So don’t panic-plan