Infection Control: How to keep yourself safe from airborne diseases
It can happen so easily. Someone comes to work with a slight cold and suddenly the entire office is sneezing.
Unfortunately for you and those around you, the body’s method of protecting your lungs from contamination is through violent sneezing and coughing.
Airborne pathogenic organisms can also be spread through contaminated surfaces. If you touch a contaminated surface and then touch your eyes, nose, or mouth, you can pick up those germs.
Airborne diseases such as the common flu can spread up to 6 feet away and researchers have found that the average sneeze can travel from 20-25 feet. More concerning is the fact that germs from that sneeze can travel up to 100 miles per hour. So, the next time you say ‘Bless you,’ try to do so from a far corner.
When is a person with an airborne disease most contagious?
How to keep yourself safe from airborne diseases
If someone is displaying flu-like symptoms, the first thing you should do to prevent yourself from coming down with it is to keep away from them. If you have the flu or are feeling ill, you can avoid the spread of disease by staying home yourself and keeping your distance from vulnerable people.
Large airborne outbreaks tend to occur in crowded and unsanitary conditions. While it is impossible to avoid airborne pathogens completely, the following everyday steps can minimise your chances of becoming ill:
- Cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough into a tissue or the crook of your elbow to diminish the possibility of spreading germs to your hands.
- Wear a face mask if you cannot avoid being around others
- Wash your hands regularly, for about 20 seconds at a time
- Carry a hand sanitizer
- Avoid touching your face and other people
- During airborne outbreaks, avoid touching common surfaces like doorknobs directly. Instead, use a tissue
- Regularly clean surfaces and doorknobs with disinfectant during outbreaks
- Get a flu shot
- Keep up your fluid and vitamin intake