Don’t Let Your Facility Fall Victim to the Flu

By Sue Minichiello

Flu-Fighter_graphicFlu season in the United States is now considered to be as early as October and as late as May. That’s more than half the year. As always, AffinEco is prepared to help clients wage the battle against the virus. In office buildings, schools, hospitals, and more, the illness can spread like wildfire, so every preventive tool is worthwhile.

In the 2017-2018 flu season, the CDC estimated that:

  • 8 million people got the flu.
  • 7 million people went to a health care provider.
  • 959,000 people were hospitalized.
  • 79,400 deaths resulted from the flu.

That’s the highest rate of sickness since the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. It cost U.S. businesses an estimated $21 billion, and schools in 14 states had to close down due to the virus. While the 2019-2020 season isn’t expected to be as bad, that doesn’t mean we should be any less cautious.

Knowing the flu virus can live for 24 to 48 hours on hard surfaces, AffinEco crews are trained to pay as much attention as possible to high touchpoints in the time allotted for cleaning. Those include door and faucet handles, handrails, light switches, elevator buttons, phones, and keyboards. Desktops and countertops can be breeding grounds, too, along with workplace break room surfaces and handles. AffinEco crews routinely tackle such areas with disinfecting cloths.

Add-on services during flu season can provide an extra line of defense. For an additional cost, AffinEco offers wall-mountable alcohol-based sanitizer dispensers, supplementary disinfecting procedures, and a newer technology called Electrostatic spraying.

Electrostatic sprayers “charge” each droplet of disinfecting solution as it leaves the sprayer. Since the droplets are charged, they land on surfaces in a thin, uniform layer. The solution also wraps itself around objects, covering all areas, including the backsides and undersides. The technology allows the user to spray a sizable area and get complete coverage in a minimal amount of time.

Specifically, the Clorox Total 360 System that AffinEco utilizes includes two chemicals: a disinfectant and a sanitizer. That means it not only destroys flu germs, but also prevents the spread of e-coli, salmonella, and other food-borne bacteria. It’s safe for computers, keyboards, and other electronics, and meets OSHA workplace safety standards.

Even when all possible facility precautions are taken and prevention tools employed, the flu can still spread. Here are some personal prevention steps the CDC recommends promoting in all commercial facilities and in daily life:

  • First and foremost, everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every season. The seasonal flu vaccine protects against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the current season. There are several flu vaccine options this flu season.
  • Cough and sneeze like Dracula, with your nose and mouth tucked into your elbow.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, scrubbing for at least 20 seconds.
  • If soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Share these tips on handwashing and using hand sanitizers. It may seem like overkill, but a 2018 study found that the average person fails to wash their hands correctly 97 percent of the time.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Encourage people to stay home if they are sick.

Despite more and more employers encouraging the latter, many people still come to work when they are ill. When any individual becomes aware that a fellow employee has shown flu symptoms, AffinEco encourages sharing that information with the liaison to its crew leader. That way, extra care can be given for a few days to hopefully stop the spread of the illness.

In addition to having a properly cleaned environment, good health habits go a long way to keeping the flu at bay. People who are able to get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food typically have stronger resistance. No method is sure-fire, but being vigilant is key to keeping a healthy building during the six-month flu season.

Image courtesy of Telhai