Does Cold Weather Make People Sick at Your Facility?
We’ve all heard it before: “You’re going to catch a cold out there!” Many of you grew up with this phrase and were often instructed to put on a hat, zip up your coat all the way, and even wrap a scarf around your neck and mouth to prevent getting sick. It’s no wonder it seems natural for us to believe the cold weather makes people sick. But has it been a myth all this time? What really causes us to catch a cold? And what makes it spread like wildfire at work?
So Is It True or Not?
It’s a complicated question to answer. The rhinovirus (the common cold) is what most of us catch two or three times a year, but it’s not the cold weather that makes people sick. Germs are the guilty party.
“You can’t get sick from being cold in general, whether you are outside or inside,” Shannon Fecher, an Advanced Register Nurse Practitioner (ARNP) told UnityPoint Health. “Can you get sick from being cold? Yes, but not in terms of a cold or the flu. This comes from frostbite and/or even hypothermia. If you get frostbit or hypothermia, this can weaken the immune system, which leaves you more at-risk for getting illnesses, such as the common cold and/or the flu.”
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Why Do We Catch Colds Then?
Most of us hunker down inside during the colder months, which according to Fecher can be a major reason a virus begins to spread in places such as a workplace environment. So even though the cold weather isn’t to blame, there are two main culprits for it rapidly spreading at your facility. The first being direct contact with someone else who carries the virus, and the second being small droplets in the air that get into our nose and begin replicating throughout our system.
“It’s actually encouraged to go out even in the colder months for exercise and activities, as staying inside among others puts you at higher risk of getting ill,” said Fecher.
But what about workplaces that don’t have the ability for their employees to take regular breaks outside during the cold and flu season?
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How to Improve Workplace Wellness
There was a study at George Washington University that discovered children were much more likely to believe the cold weather makes people sick. Unfortunately, many children grow up and keep believing this into their adult years, causing a misunderstanding about how to prevent themselves from viruses. It’s not just about how cold it is outside, but about what’s going on inside where you spend most of your week.
Here are a few ways to prevent germs from spreading at your facility this year:
- Provide hand sanitizer at every door
- Stock up on disinfectant wipes
- Sanitize all equipment like computer keyboards and phones regularly
- Focus on keeping heavy-traffic areas clean
- Sanitize high-touch areas like stair rails, door handles, and elevator buttons
City Wide can help you get ahead of the cold and flu season when people will begin spending more time indoors. We can schedule the industry’s top professionals to come in before the frigid temperatures arrive and start preparing those vulnerable places and high-traffic spots in your facility.
Contact your local City Wide today.