Unfortunately, we are approaching the cold and flu season – that time of the year when everyone seems to get sick. And it’s not just in our heads. Scientists recently established the biological reason why we get more respiratory illnesses during the winter season. It is because cold air damages the immune response occurring in the nose.(1)

According to the study, reducing the temperature inside the nose by as little as 5 °C kills almost 50 percent of the billions of virus- and bacteria-fighting cells in the nostrils.

While cold and flu season is inevitable, there are ways to combat germs from spreading in your facility to help keep your building patrons healthy, according to Cintas Facility Services. While easier said than done, hand hygiene combined with thorough facility cleaning is a deadly weapon against pathogens and can significantly reduce the spread of infectious disease.

Stop germs in their tracks with the four principles of hand-hygiene awareness

According to the USA Centers for Disease Control (CDC), handwashing is one of the best ways to protect yourself and your family from getting sick.(2) While handwashing is simple and one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs, this simple task is, unfortunately, not performed by everybody. In fact, a recent survey found handwashing frequency decreased 25 percent among adults compared to when the coronavirus first occurred.(3)

When it comes to hand hygiene, education is key. Dr William Sawyer, a hand hygiene and infection prevention expert, founded the Henry the Hand Foundation in 2001 when he realised the need to educate both children and adults regarding the important life skill of effective hand hygiene to promote health and wellness. Endorsed by the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Family Physicians, his science-based multi-media and multi-sensory hand hygiene behaviour modification programme teaches hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette and cross contamination awareness using four key principles which include:

1. Wash your hands when they are dirty and before eating.
2. Do NOT cough into your hands.
3. Do NOT sneeze into your hands.
4. Do NOT place your fingers into your eyes, nose, or mouth.

These easy-to-follow principles can help everyone stay healthy this winter season and beyond. Facility managers can post signage throughout their building in strategic places such as washrooms and kitchen areas to remind building occupants of these four principles along with the correct way to wash hands. The CDC recommends scrubbing hands together with soap for at least 20 seconds using clean, running water and either air drying or using a clean towel to dry.(4)

In addition, implementing a hand sanitiser programme in your facility can also help boost hand hygiene compliance. Place hand sanitiser stands in high traffic areas, kitchens, break rooms, or anywhere soap and water are not readily available. Also, the type of hand sanitiser used can make a huge difference in compliance. Many sanitisers on the market can have a drying effect on hands, which may discourage patrons from using it. It’s important to select a quality sanitiser that is effective, yet gentle enough for everyday use. Look for a formula that kills 99.9 percent of bacteria and that contains a moisturising agent to help keep hands soft and protect against drying skin.

[1] https://www.cnn.com/2022/12/06/health/ why-winter-colds-flu-wellness/index.html
[2] https://www.cdc.gov/hygiene/personalhygiene/hands.html
[3] https://www.bradleycorp.com/handwashing.
[4] https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/whenhow-handwashing.html