By: Beth Brown, MBA, MSN, RN, CEIS™, COHC, COHN-S, Occupational Health Nurse/Lead Registered Nurse

While colds and flu viruses can happen any time, it’s that time time of year when cold and flu season begins to ramp up. Here are a few tips to help you get through the season:

Wash Your Hands – The number one way to prevent the spread of germs is to wash your hands. The proper way to wash your hands is to use soap and warm water. Scrub your hands for 20 seconds (hum the happy birthday song). Rinse well with clean running water and dry with a clean paper towel. Shut off the faucet with another clean towel.

Use Hand Sanitizer – If hand washing is not an option, utilize alcohol based hand sanitizer. Rub your hands together well and allow to dry. Use this no more than 3 times before washing your hands with soap and water.

Cover That Cough/Sneeze – Be sure to cover your nose and mouth with a tissue if available or cough/sneeze into the bend of your elbow. Covering your nose and mouth with your hands is better than not covering it at all, but then make sure to wash your


Avoid Touching Your Face – No matter where you are, you should try to avoid touching your face – especially the eye, nose and mouth area. Germs love areas where they can get into the body!

Don’t Share Food/Beverages – Avoid pitch-ins and community bags of snacks/candy unless they are pre-packaged. Keep lunch areas clean and wipe counters/tables with disinfecting wipes/spray.

Get the Flu Shot – If recommended by your primary care provider, get the flu shot! Annual flu shots are a good way to prevent the spread of the flu virus, especially if you are more susceptible to viruses due to a weakened immune system. If you are not sure you should receive a flu vaccine, ask your primary care provider.

Eat Healthy and Stay Hydrated – Eat a well-balanced diet to help strengthen your immune system. Taking a multi-vitamin is beneficial, but eating a diet balanced with fresh fruit, veggies, whole grains and lean protein will provide the body with a constant supply of nutrients to fight off illness. Keep hydrated with plenty of fluids, especially water.

Get Plenty of Rest – Being tired and worn down due to lack of sleep can decrease the effectiveness of your immune system. Get at least 6-8 hours of sleep a night.

Don’t Spread the Love – If you have a fever, stay home! There’s no need to spread the love to fellow coworkers.

Get Plenty of Exercise – This will help boost your immune system and makes recovery from illness, faster.

If you are experiencing cold/flu symptoms and are not getting any better or have concerns with symptoms, seek medical attention.