Flu Season is in Bloom

Oh for the love of pumpkin flavored everything! Don’t you just LOVE this time of year? The leaves are changing, the nights are cooler, and all the store ads are featuring boots and the much loved comfy sweaters!

Yes, Autumn is upon us! This means spending more time cooped up indoors.

For many, fall brings the dreaded flu. There is still no concrete explanation as to why flu season happens when it does but there are many theories. Did you know that researchers have found patterns in the survival of the virus in low and high humidity?

At low humidity (think indoors during Portland’s gorgous summer weather) viruses survive because droplets evaporate and the virus can survive in dryer conditions. Additionally, in high humidity conditions (think our 6 to 7 months of rainy season), the virus is exposed to high levels of chemicals in the rains and water, which is why the same affect happens in different environments. This may explain why in those two different environments viruses can spread.

Some attribute the increased chances of spreading the flu and germs to going back to school (little or no handwashing, coughing into hands instead of elbows), holiday gatherings (shaking hands, kissing and hugging), and more shopping. Public exposure means touching more surfaces that have been contaminated!

Here are 10 questions to ask about your indoor environment about germ spreading and the cleanliness of your home or office while you begin to spend more time indoors.

  1. What cleaning products do I use indoors? Are the touch points in my home and office getting disinfected, not just cleaned but disinfected?
  2. Improper cleaning products used in a closed space can increase the probability of getting sick! Glass cleaner is NOT a disinfectant!
  3. How do I feel when I spend more time indoors?
  4. Do you sneeze more, feel throat or nose irritation? You may be sensitive to indoor air pollutants. Remember, room ventilation can decrease (or increase) the amount of indoor pollutants that leak out from rooms and outside.
  5. When is the last time your furnace filters were changed and the duct system cleaned? We had ours done and I about got sick when I saw what came out!
  6. How am I contributing to indoor air quality?
  7. Does your vacuum have a HEPA filter? I am totally in love with my Dyson vacuum! I’m so amazed every time I vacuum how much dust and dander it picks up when I clean the filter after each use.
  8. Are the correct chemicals and procedures used to clean high traffic areas and small spaces? When was the last time your carpet was cleaned? All these aspects of a professional clean effect the quality of the air.
  9. Do you have more traffic at certain times of the year? Imagine holiday parties, extra meetings during the last quarter of the business year and the like. More activity means more germ hot spots that are office culprits during the year.
  10. Do you have a plan to reduce germ spread? How often do you schedule a “Deep Clean” of your space?

Its estimated that an average person spends upwards of 87% of their time indoors and that could increase during the rainy days when we’re holed up indoors with a hot cup of coffee or tea and binge watching our favorite shows.

Be smart and be aware of how you and your coworkers feel. Be proactive to avoid flu-related pit falls that can lead to illness… and wash those hands!

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