The flu season swept in quickly this December, bringing pain and misery to the afflicted from coast to coast. Huffington Post reported that this year's flu season hit about a month earlier than expected and spread rapidly, with cases reported in nearly all 50 states.
No traveler wants to catch the flu, whether they are traveling for business or pleasure. Convention attendees, event professionals and meetings planners are at an increased risk of contracting and spreading this virus, and with this fact comes an added responsibility to abate the virus' spread. Health professionals agree on some simple precautions that will increase your chance of staying healthy this winter, so wash your hands, cross your fingers and read on:
January and February are traditionally busy months in the convention and conference calendar. Any type of mixing, mingling and shaking hands coupled with a large gathering of people automatically increases your risk of coming into contact with this this nasty bug. Get a flu shot, wash your hands often and avoid sick people. Meeting planners and conference organizers should keep medical supplies on hand for extreme flu cases, too; such preparation can help reduce the impact a company-wide case of the flu would have.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headache and fatigue are symptoms of the flu. They recommend travelers learn about flu activity in the part of the country or world to which they are traveling, as well as getting a yearly flu vaccine two weeks before travel (the vaccine immunity kicks in two weeks after the shot). If you're sick, you should not travel – not only is this better for you, but many airlines and hotels are starting to limit passengers or guests with flu symptoms, too.
Tips for Conference Attendees
For those who must travel or attend conferences during flu season, experts recommend the following flu prevention tips:
Take Care of Yourself: Drink plenty of fluids, eat healthy while traveling and get plenty of rest – this will help keep your immune system optimized to fight off germs.
Wash Hands Frequently: This is vital, because many people cough and sneeze into their hands. Water should be hot, use plenty of soap and wash for at least 20 seconds.
Keep it Sanitary: Meeting professionals should spray the meeting area and seats with disinfectant frequently, and have plenty of hand sanitizers and tissues available.
Separate Sufferers: If you know attendees are flu-infected but are at the conference anyway, seat them separately.
Tips for Workplaces
Workplaces are great germ incubators. Once a person in an office has the flu, it can quickly spread unless the person stays away from work at the first symptom. Here are some flu-prevention tips from CareerBuilder:
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and discard the tissue in the trash.
- Cough or sneeze into your elbow, not your hands, when a tissue is not available.
- Use alcohol-based hand sanitizers and chlorine wipes often.
- Minimize the need to interact face-to-face with your co-workers by using inter-office email or hosted telephone conferences. Have meetings with boxed lunches rather than a buffet.
There are no guarantees that following these suggestions will keep you healthy this flu season, but they will help you, your clients and employees minimize the risk.
Author Bio: Katherine Bartlett is a professional blogger for the site, Our Whiskey Lullaby. Her profession and writing focus revolve around family and health, kids, parenting, cooking, recipes and household items. She also home schools her daughter, Mary, who is five years old.