Tips for Preventing Colds and Flu in the Workplace

(10/10/2013) Cragin & Pike

It’s almost that time of year again! The cold and flu season is right around the corner as it typically runs from November – April. Don’t want to be hit with one of these viruses? Neither do we! There are plenty of ways to prevent the cold and flu virus in the workplace. According to the Centers for Disease Control, everyone should take the following steps:


- Wash Your Hands for at least 15-20 seconds with soap many times a day or sanitize with an alcohol-gel hand sanitizer, especially following contact with potentially contaminated surfaces:

  • Hands or face of others – including handshakes
  • Doorknob or handle (including microwave and refrigerator)
  • Copier machine buttons or parts
  • Another person’s keyboard or phone
  • Coffee pot handle
  • Elevator button
  • Countertop
  • Food or food container handled by others
  • Shared books or other office materials
  • Shared hand or power tools

- Following washing, turn off the faucet with a paper towel

- Dry your hands with an air dryer or a clean paper towel

- Use a paper towel to open the bathroom door and dispose of paper towel in a trash bin outside of door

- Use a hand sanitizer between washing

- Avoid touching your face, eyes, or rubbing your nose

- Wash out your water bottle daily

- Clean shared items such as phones, keyboards, handles and door knobs with alcohol wipes or other sanitizer- type wipes

- Avoid close contact with anyone who has a cold or flu

- Sneeze and cough into a tissue, throw the tissue away, and then wash your hands. If you don’t have a tissue cough or sneeze into your elbow rather than your hand

- Drink plenty of fluids, but do not share drinking cups or straws

- Get lots of fresh air

- Exercise regularly and frequently

- Eat healthy foods such as whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables

- Don’t smoke and decrease alcohol consumption

- Relax – stress can decrease immunity

- Avoid contact with known allergens -allergies affecting the nose or throat may increase the chances of getting a cold or flu


Treating a Cold or Flu

  • If you do get sick, stay at home if you can
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water or juices – between 9-13 cups per day)
  • De-stress and avoid strenuous activity – physical, emotional, or mental stress can be major drains on the immune system
  • Get plenty of rest – most people need seven to nine hours of sleep each night
  • Drink green tea or ginger tea each stimulate the immune system to fight off infections
  • Ask your doctor about over the counter drugs which may alleviate symptoms


Have these Items Handy While at Work

  • Water, decaffeinated tea, or juice
  • Tissues
  • Eye drops
  • Alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Hand cream or lotion
  • Over the counter drugs
  • Cough drops/lozenges
  • Vitamins



For more information on how to stay healthy this winter, visit The Center for Hygiene & Health at

or the Centers for Disease Control at


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