It’s that time of year again…back to work and the kids are back in school after a busy holiday. My two teens both came home sick the first week after a long winter break. Like most families, we pass cough drops around on a regular basis. Germs and sniffles are all around, and several of my friends and colleagues are down with the bug.
I am sharing some etiquette tips for the flu season and ideas for delivering “cold” baskets to those under the weather.
- Spare your coworkers. If you’re sick with a cold or worse (the dreaded flu), stay home as you rest and recover. Bringing your germs into the office is bad manners and poses a risk to those with a weak immune system, or caring for young children or aging parents.
- Keep surfaces clean. The Healthy Workplace Project at Kimberly-Clark encourages a wash, wipe, and sanitize protocol. Germs lurk on surfaces such as keyboards, cell phones, landlines, and door handles. Wiping them down with disinfectant can kill microorganisms and reduce infection. When washing your hands, use soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer, then dry with a clean towel. Take their Germ Personality Quiz and see how you score.
- Call your doctor. Some doctors’ offices are asking for you to call first to get preliminary information and further directions on treatment. It depends on your doctor and whether they want you to come in and potentially infect their waiting room. If you receive a prescription for an antiviral medication used to treat influenza, make sure and take it to lessen the symptoms and shorten the duration of your illness. I took Tamiflu last month and noticed a difference almost immediately.
- Cover your mouth. We often get so involved in what we are doing at the office, or so relaxed in the comfort of our home, that we forget to cover our mouth when we sneeze or cough.
Time Public Health states, “A sneeze can travel 100 mph and spew countless germs.”
- Dispose of your tissue. After you have used your tissue, toss it and sanitize your hands immediately. Handkerchiefs may be pretty but they are not sanitary if you use them and then put them back into your purse or pocket. Sneeze into the crook of your arm or upper arm according to the CDC.
I put a few flu baskets together this afternoon, scheduled for hand delivery in the next couple of days. I plan to call ahead and leave the baskets at the door, along with a thermos of hot soup. I talked about this topic on Fox 7 Austin this week and even made a few extra baskets for the producer and the hosts of the show as “just in case” surprises. You never know who will catch a nasty germ!
What to add to your cold/flu basket:
When creating your basket, make it personal. Add the basics such as tissue, cough drops, lip balm, a thermometer, hand wipes, disinfectant spray and an assortment of sanitizers for the home of office. From there, place a few of your favorite magazines, a box of tea bags and a mug, a new blanket, some furry socks, an ice pack, and a water bottle or heating pad. Include anything else you think they will enjoy. Here are a couple of my own that I made earlier today.
For more of my Cold and Flu Etiquette Tips, check out blog, Office Flu Etiquette, on The Huffington Post.