Flu Season is Here; the Most Unhappy Time of Year. Sanitize and Disinfect for Prevention!

Guess what time it is?! Flu season! And this year, the cold and flu season is off to a strong and early start.  So far, the CDC estimates that this season’s flu outbreak will be up to five times more widespread than the 2011 strain.  And, while the season started early, it has yet to peak.  So far, nearly every state and province in North America has moderate to high flu activity.

Click on the interactive map above to view flu stats about your state. (Map Source: www.CDC.gov)

 

Influenza Activity Level by Provincial and Territorial
Influenza Surveillance Regions
Canada (January 20 to 26, 2013) Week 4

Click on the map above to view information on the flu in your province or territory.  (Map Source: www.publichealth.gc.ca)

 

Unfortunately, flu season means much more than just a few sniffles or a day or two at home.  In an average flu season, in the United States, an average of 20% of the population gets the flu; that’s almost 63 million people!  Additionally, of that number, more than 200,000 people are hospitalized due to flu-related complications.  Clearly flu season is nothing to mess with.

During this time of year, more than ever, it’s especially important to pay attention to our surroundings and to make sure we’re providing a clean, healthy work environment for our employees, customers, etc.  The flu virus can live on surfaces for up to 48 hours if they’re not properly disinfected or sanitized, and during flu season, up to 59% of surfaces will be contaminated with the flu virus.  That amounts to 6 out of every 10 things you touch on a daily basis having the potential to transmit the flu to you!  Even more than the inconvenience being sick can cause, it takes a toll on the economy as well.  Flu outbreaks like this year’s cost businesses an estimated $10 billion (that’s billion with a “B”) a year in lost time and health care expenses. 


So, how do you protect yourself from getting sick and protect your business from the costs associated with flu outbreaks? Keep reading! We have information on flu prevention practices you can put into place and encourage around the work place as well as the recommended types of disinfection, sanitization, and cleaning products that will help minimize the chance of transmission around your workplace.

Before we even talk about cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing chemicals, there are a few behavioral practices you can implement to help prevent the spread of the flu.  The CDC recommends these simple methods of prevention:

  •  Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze (use the crook of your elbow instead of your hands!)
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people
  • If you are sick, stay home
  • Keep hard surfaces clean and wipe them down regularly with a disinfectant (make sure it’s EPA registered for influenza)

Where State Chemical Solutions can offer the most value is in the hand washing hygiene and use of hard surface disinfectants.

First, we’ll cover the various hand care products that will help in flu prevention, but before we get to that, it’s important to point out that regardless of what hand cleaner you use, if you’re not washing properly, your chances of contracting the flu will go up.  So let’s review proper hand washing procedures.

  1.  When possible, use soap and water. (In a pinch, hand sanitizer can be used)
  2. Wet your hands first and then apply soap.
  3. Rub your hands together for a full 20 seconds. (The equivalent of singing “Happy Birthday” twice.  Be courteous, and sing to yourself)
  4. Rinse hands under warm water.
  5. Dry hands thoroughly using a paper towel or hand dryer.

In terms of what soap you should use, talk to your account manager about any of our soap products with “Defense” in the name, such as Hands On® Defense, our premium liquid soap, or Gentle Fresh™ Defense, our rich foaming soap.  Both of these soaps utilize Triclosan®, a strong anti-bacterial agent, to combat germs and help keep you and your employees healthy.

While soap and water are the best options, sometimes they’re simply not available.  In those instances, the CDC recommends using a waterless alcohol based sanitizer, such as our Gentle Fresh™ Alcohol foaming sanitizer or the extremely convenient EZ Hand Sanitizing wipes.


Prevention doesn’t stop with hand cleaning.  With the majority of objects you touch during flu season being contaminated, hard surface disinfection is incredibly important.  You should pay particular attention to high touch surfaces, such as counter tops, restroom fixtures, telephones, and door handles.  Make sure to thoroughly clean and then disinfect using an EPA registered disinfectant.

State Chemical Solutions has many options when it comes to disinfection.  The most economical are our disinfectant concentrates, Ecolution™ Disinfectant, Neutral Disinfectant Cleaner (NDC), and Spectr-o-cide (also California Spectr-o-cide).  All of these are best utilized through the One Solution™ system to ensure accurate dilution ratios, which ensures proper disinfection.   Of course, make sure you’re allowing for adequate dwell time, and always follow the use instructions on the product label for best results.

In addition to our concentrated disinfectant cleaners, we also have super convenient products, such as our aerosol disinfectant Discover™, and our disinfecting wipes, EZ disinfectant wipes and FIX® disinfectant wipes.

Whichever product you choose this flu season, make sure you’re following all the steps to prevention to keep yourself, your employees, and your customers healthy and happy!  And of course, if you don't have a State Chemical Solutions represenative, contact us so we can get you set up and ready for flu prevention!