Flu season is upon us once more, and the plague is particularly bad this year. The Centers for Disease Control suggest three simple steps for fighting the flu: Get a flu shot, take preventative actions -- like hand-washing and cough-covering -- to stop germs from spreading, and take flu anti-viral drugs when prescribed.
Those of us who follow the CDC recommendations each year know that three steps aren't necessarily enough. What's worse, a case of the flu can jeopardize your case as a lawyer. (It's hard to raise an objection when you're stuck in a Nyquil stupor.) So for those of you ready to go above and beyond the CDC recs, here are five more tips for fighting the flu at your firm:
Wash your hands. Again. Not just in the bathroom. Wash your hands before you use the microwave. Use a hand sanitizer before you make copies. If you have to touch anything communal, wash your hands or use an anti-bacterial disinfectant first. And when you return to your computer? Disinfect before you start clicking at your keyboard because someone in your office inevitably coughed all over the communal items today.
Avoid the office freebies. Those free forks and cups in the firm's kitchen? The sick people used them too. And they probably rifled through the tea selection as well. Don't even think about touching the Friday morning bagels. If you're stuck in the office, assume that someone with germs has infected every freebie you might use. Just bring your own forks. And maybe even bottled water.
Go to bed. According to WebMD, lack of sleep may leave you more prone to catching colds and the flu. Get a good night's sleep, when possible. (We know -- it's probably impossible.)
Stay home. It's rude to show up to work with a hacking cough or a fever. If you think you're sick, work from home. If you find yourself staring blankly at your computer screen for two hours as the room spins around you, just take a sick day. That's what they're meant for. And if you're the boss, tell your employees to take a sick day or work from home when they're feeling lousy.
Alternate transportation options. Anyone who uses mass transit on a regular basis knows the dread that comes with stepping onto a bus or train and hearing other passengers sniffling and coughing. If you can walk, bike, or carpool instead, do it. Minimize the risk of being trapped with 20 flu-ridden riders.
If we ruled the world, everyone would have the option of working from home during the height of flu season. Until that happens, try to be paranoid vigilant about stemming the spread of germs.
Editor's Note: This post was first published on January 15, 2013. It has since been updated.