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April 2018

Fact or fiction: Does cold weather make you sick?

Written by Lemay Rogers
Cleanliness and Hygiene Leave a Comment

Winter is well on it’s way with the Cape experiencing some much needed rainfall and Johannesburg hitting its first single digit evening temperatures this week. Winter brings with it many concerns around the health of one’s family and employees. Have you had the annual nightmare yet? The one where you arrive at work and you’re the only one there because everyone else has called in sick! For some, it might be a reality considering the stats on absenteeism.

Prevention is better than cure, right?

Time to whip out Ouma’s Book of Remedies before winter hits full swing. Let’s review some common flu-dodging pieces of wisdom;

  1. The cold will make you sick, you better wrap up when going outside
  2. Going to bed with wet hair will make you sick
  3. Don’t bath before going out in the evening

An article published by The Atlantic late last year got me thinking about some of the practicalities behind these old wives tales.  Is there any truth to them, or are they simply another weapon in the arsenal of things parents use to get their children to comply with their wishes?

The thing that our 3 “tales” have in common is that they imply temperature change. The Atlantic article refers to Ray Casciari, a pulmonologist at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, California who states that a sudden drop in temperature is the commonly noticed indicator of “real” temperature changes. For example, low-humidity could dry out your mucous membranes in your nose, your lungs and your eyes, making you more susceptible to viruses and bacteria.

So there is more to these “tales” than mere emotional blackmail. They may not be factually accurate, but they are definitely on the right track. In essence, viruses and bacteria make you sick, but environmental factors (like the cold) make us more susceptible to contracting these nasty germs.

How do you minimise the risk of infection at work?

If you’ve been a blog subscriber for a while you will probably roll your eyes and think “yes, I know, you keep writing about it” but it’s true! Wash your hands regularly with soap and water (while singing happy birthday twice) and put additional measures in place to minimise cross contamination.  


For information on how to minimise the spread of germs in the office read 7 workplace mistakes you're making that are making you sick.

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You may also want to suggest that your Office Manager consider proactive disinfection services - including Techno Hygiene to prevent cross contamination through equipment like phones, copiers and keyboards - and Deep Clean with Fogging for your office bathrooms. You might also want to review your daily cleaning regime as an additional preventative measure. 

Unfortunately, we can’t always prevent illness, whether you follow Ouma’s old school advice or more conventional methods. It is just important that when you do get sick you take measures to limit the effect on your office coworkers; click here for some suggestions.

For more hygiene tips and tricks this winter subscribe to the blog.

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Lemay Rogers

Lemay Rogers

Lémay Rogers is the Marketing Manager for Rentokil Initial. When not contributing to the Initial blog, she is the custodian of all things Marketing for Rentokil Initial South Africa, and supports the Sub-Saharan African businesses. As a frequent traveller AND mother of a toddler, she is all too aware of how easily germs can travel with us, from one location to another and then back to our homes. Follow Lémay on Twitter and LinkedIn for practical advice on good hygiene practices, both at home and in the workplace.

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