We’ve all heard the message over and over – wash – sanitize – repeat. That’s the number one step we’re all hearing daily as the best thing to do to avoid the H1N1 virus – more commonly referred to as the swine flu. Seems almost like a no-brainer, doesn’t it? Mothers have been saying it for years – sounds like once again your parents were right.
Fear of catching the H1N1 virus has everyone – parents, teachers, businesses and consumers alike – a little on edge as we all search for the perfect recipe to protect ourselves, our families and our businesses. While surgical masks aren’t part of our daily dressing routine, I have seen some people out in public wearing one of the masks (not sure if they’re protecting themselves from others, or others from them!).
Just as it seems very basic to wash your hands thoroughly after you sneeze or before you eat, there are several other things you can do immediately to help fend off the virus:
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
- Stay home if you are sick until at least 24 hours after you no longer have a fever (100°F or 37.8°C) or signs of a fever (without the use of a fever-reducing medicine, such as Tylenol®). Read detailed information about how long to stay away from others.
- Follow public health advice regarding school closures, avoiding crowds and other social distancing measures.
Need more guidance? There’s an abundance of information out there. One place to start is with a new webinar being offered exclusively to OSCPA members on Oct. 23 – H1N1 Virus Preparedness Planning: What You Need to Know and Do. If you can’t attend the webinar, it will be available in OSCPA’s Online Library the following week and you can listen to it any time. The discussion leaders will walk through what’s real, what’s hype and what you need to know, plus:
- Key factors to know about the potential impact of H1N1: How will it affect your business?
- What is H1N1 and what are the risks?
- Understanding the U.S. Alert stages
- What You Need to Do
- Prevention: Actions employers should take NOW
- Management of employee exposure in the workplace after a confirmed case
- Developing your outbreak contingency plan strategy
If you want to head out on your own, here are a few places to start your search. These resources from the Centers for Disease Control and the Small Business Association can help you prepare your business and even include “fact sheets” you can print out for your staff, your family and friends.
- Action steps to keep your business and employees healthy from the Center for Disease Control
- SBA Preparedness Guide
- 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccine info
- Preparing for the Flu: A Communication Toolkit for Businesses and Employers
- U.S. Chamber H1N1 flu guide to keep businesses in business
- Business pandemic influenza planning checklist
- Guidance for businesses and employers to plan and respond to the 2009 – 2010 influenza season
- Occupational health issues associated with H1N1 influenza virus (swine flu)
How many times have you said – it’s better to be safe than sorry? It is, isn’t it?