Office Flu ImageFall is here and noses are running, people are coughing, and you may notice an unsettling feeling in the back of your throat. No matter where you turn, you’re at an invisible dead end with countless germs awaiting to make you take a sick day off from the office.

During the winter months, the cold and flu thrive due to colder and less humid environments. Although some believe adults are better at taking care of their health than children, the truth is that the workplace has as much chance of spreading the common cold and flu as a school or daycare. Here are five fool-proof tips to keep you away from the tissues, thermometer and soup.

  1. Wash Your Hands to Prevent the Cold and Flu

Preventing germs from reaching your body can be just as simple as washing your hands frequently with soap and water. The most important times to washing your hands are after you use the restroom, sneeze, cough or blow your nose. Some might believe that the bathroom is the place with the most germs, but phones, mouse pads and computer keyboards are other big culprits.

  1. Clean the Cold and Flu Off Shared Surfaces

Wipe down shared workspaces to prevent the spread of infections. Computers, door handles and the break room’s refrigerator and microwave should be cleansed with a disinfectant wipe or spray on a regular basis. These cleaners can help sterilize contaminated surfaces and prevent the spread of germs.

  1. Avoid Contracting the Flu By Not Touching Your Face

You would be surprised by how many times most people touch their face in a day. A 2008 study performed by researchers from the University of California, found subjects touched their eyes, nose or lips 15.7 times per hour on average.

Unfortunately, germs are able to travel through your mouth, nose or lungs by water droplets that are formed by people who talk, cough, or sneeze. It may be difficult, but if you can withhold your temptation to touch your face, you have a higher chance of being sick-free.

  1. Help Sick Coworkers Go Home So You Don’t Get A Cold

If you notice that one of your co-workers is showing symptoms of the cold or the flu, try encouraging them to stay home. Taking an unplanned day off may be less than desirable, but your co-worker can hopefully delegate their tasks to someone else instead of getting the whole office sick. If you begin having cold symptoms at work, do your best to cover your face with an elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze, and try to arrange your work responsibilities so you can stay home as well.

  1. Avoid the Cold and Flu by Not Shaking Hands

Avoiding handshakes may be tricky, but they’re not particularly sanitary. Try finding different options to greet people. Instead of reaching for the hand, try clutching someone’s wrist with both hands to show a determined approach while avoiding their fingertips and palm. You could also use your sleeve as a buffer.

No one likes to get sick, but this time of year the chances of catching a cold or flu are much higher. Follow these five tips and stay aware of the various ways common cold and flu germs have access to your body. The best defense is a strong offense and you’re now ready to take on the fall cold and flu season.