Although cold and flu season is generally associated with winter weather, it seems like there is always one point every summer that everyone and their brother gets sick. The only thing worse than being stuck inside with a cold is being stuck inside with a cold when the weather outside is beautiful. To avoid missing out on all the summer fun, use these tips to keep yourself safe from your co-workers’ germs.
Start with your own workspace. You may not realize it, but your desk is probably the most germ-filled place in your entire office. No matter how thoroughly you wash your hands after using the bathroom, it can only help so much when you’re returning to a workspace that is rarely cleaned or sanitized. As with most health issues, prevention is easier than treatment, so don’t only begin cleaning your cubicle only when you’re already sick. Make cleanliness and sanitization a weekly ritual, and your body will thank you for it. Remember to go beyond wiping down the surface of your desk—your phone and keyboard are the dirtiest culprits of them all!
Avoid common areas. Now, this isn’t something to be done all the time, but if you’re noticing multiple sick co-workers in the office at the same time, try to avoid common areas like the breakroom or kitchen. The kitchen is an especially germ-filled area because not only is it high in traffic, but it’s where food is prepared. Do yourself a favor during these times of the year and bring a lunch that doesn’t need to be microwaved or toasted. If you can avoid touching the kitchen appliances and countertops that all of your sick co-workers are touching and not cleaning, you’ll greatly increase your chances of staying healthy.
Use your own coffee mug. Even though that “Queen of Everything” mug in the breakroom is adorable, it probably contains a lot more germs than you might think. Even though mugs and glasses may get run through the dishwasher on a regular basis, that doesn’t make them germ-free. According to University of Arizona microbiologist Charles A. Gerba, who has conducted multiple germ-related experiments in his career, 40% of the office coffee mugs studied in his research contain coliform bacteria, which is also found in feces.
Wash your hands properly. Most of us wash our hands after using the restroom, but not many do it the right way. A quick splash of water and a towel dry simply isn’t enough. According to the Center for Disease Control, you should follow these steps for proper hand washing:
1. Wet your hands with warm or cold water.
2. Apply soap into a lather, making sure to get the backs of your hands and underneath fingernails.
3. Continue this lather for at least 20 seconds.
4. Completely rinse your hands under clean, running water.
5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dryer.
If you used a towel to dry your hands, you may also want to use that same towel to turn off the sink faucet and to open the bathroom door. Touching a dirty bathroom faucet or door right after cleaning your hands will only make them germy again.
By remaining on the defense and protecting yourself against germs on a regular basis, you’ll greatly increase your chances of staying healthy this summer, and for the rest of the year too!