- THE MAGAZINE
Columbia, Maryland – As schools and colleges open for the fall semester, concerns regarding transmission prevention of the H1N1 (swine) influenza virus in these settings becomes a priority for administrators, educators, students and parents. The Restoration Industry Association (RIA) provides these recommendations for reducing the spread of the virus in various education settings.
The H1N1 flu is considered a Type A influenza virus, so the normal protocols followed for outbreaks of norovirus and other types of flu should be utilized. According to the Dept. of Health & Human Services pandemic website, survival times for influenza A particles on surfaces vary from 8-12 hours on paper or cloth to 24-48 hours in ambient temperatures on non-porous surfaces such as doorknobs, counters, desks and the like. When surfaces are wet, the influenza A virus can survive up to 72 hours.
Hard surfaces can be cleaned with a normal household or commercial disinfectant. Surfaces to pay particular attention to in a school setting include: desk tops, door knobs, light switches, hand rails, computer keyboards and mice, telephones, microphones, elevator buttons, cafeteria tables and chairs, buttons/panels on office equipment (copiers, postage machines, shredders), water fountain handles and vending machines. In rest rooms, a trash receptacle should be placed close to the door so individuals exiting the lavatory can use a paper towel to open the door and then dispose of it properly.
In break rooms, utensils, plates, cups, microwave buttons and handles, silverware, coffee pot handles, cabinet handles, refrigerator handles, towels and sponges should all be disinfected regularly.
During an outbreak, touch points in high traffic areas such as door knobs and hand rails, should be disinfected several times a day to reduce the spread of germs.
In elementary schools and daycares, additional precautions should be taken because younger children may not cover their mouths when they sneeze or cough, and may not follow good hand hygiene. Toys, furniture and equipment may need to be wiped down more frequently with a normal cleaning or disinfecting agent. Hand washing with soap and water or an alcohol-based cleaner should be more frequent as well, especially after coughing or sneezing.
The same precautions apply to colleges and dormitories. Regular cleaning of frequently touched surfaces, not sharing food or drinks, plus isolating individuals who are sick from the rest of the students can also help reduce the spread of the virus.
“Following good hand hygiene, utilizing thorough and regular cleaning of frequently touched surfaces, and using common sense can help schools reduce the transmission of influenza” said RIA President Jeff Jones, CRS.
A fact sheet on cleaning and remediation recommendations for the H1N1 influenza is available from RIA by calling 443-878-1000 or visiting www.restorationindustry.org.