Rub your hands in lotion, sprinkle them with glitter and then go about your work day. It’s a kids’ game to demonstrate how quickly germs spread through our places of work, schools and at home. With flu season upon us, there are a lot of steps we can take to protect ourselves and co-workers from getting “the bug.” Here are some interesting developments in flu prevention.

The first is to actually try the glitter germ game with your co-workers. There is nothing so impactful than seeing where people’s hands travel in the course of a day. A dash of glitter also may serve as a reminder for months or more as it’s a bear to clean up. That said, glitter comes off with soap and water – a lesson that we all can use to reinforce the value of hand-washing. That little glint of light I the break room, at your desk, in the bathroom or the kitchen can spur a little extra attention to keeping our hands clean.

Flu shots also are now available. Encouraging employees and family members to get inoculated can reduce illness symptoms or help people dodge the flu entirely. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that everyone over the age of 6 months receive a flu vaccination. New this year are nasal spray vaccinations for children. To find a flu vaccination near you, call your doctor’s office, or any variety of retail stores and pharmacies that have trained personnel on staff to administer vaccinations.

What else is going on to prevent germs from doing damage?

Hospitals, often notorious harbors of resistant germs and infectious diseases, are beginning to add a layer of disinfecting to their procedures. In addition to diligent hand washing and alcohol-based lotions, hospital staff are employing ultra violet light to combat germs. According to a Concord Monitor news article, the Concord Hospital has hired Rosie the Robot to enter infection-prone areas of the New Hampshire care facility. The machine emits up to 450 pulses of UV light during a five minute period. This new approach is conducted after normal cleaning to add an extra measure of protection for patients and staff.

So how about folks who can’t afford the $75,000 industrial light-emitting robot? Amazon advertises hand-held UV light wands for under $100 that can be swept across germ-prone surfaces of the home or office. Some models promote the device as a solution for killing odors, as well.

The DNA of germs is broken down by UV light, a technology that has been used for several decades. Several manufacturers also offer UV light systems to purify water even for hikers who may be far from safe municipal water systems.

So, back to the flu. The CDC also suggests avoiding people who are sick and if you appear to be coming down with “the bug”, stay home for 24 hours after your fever is gone. That’s another reason why many employers use personal time off (PTO) to let employees take time when they need it.

Another hard-to-practice measure is to avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. And, of course, cover your face when you sneeze or cough. A sneeze travels at the equivalent of 35 miles per hour so think about how a serial sneezer can share their misery in a very short time in a radius if 15 feet or more.

If you do get sick, the CDCD notes that antiviral drugs as opposed to antibiotics can relieve symptoms.

So, let’s all do our best to keep it to ourselves and make the winter flu-free.

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