While most individuals are being encouraged to get a flu shot this year, you might be wishing there was one that could inoculate your spa from the havoc a flu epidemic can cause. With the number of H1N1, also known as swine flu, cases on the rise, you're probably wondering what you can do to protect your employees, your clients, and your overall business.
According to Alfredo Carvajal, senior vice president of sales and operations at Universal Companies, it is important to have a plan in place before the need for one actually arises and to effectively communicate it to your staff. Good hygiene, of course, is the best way to prevent the spread of swine flu, so encourage employees to wash their hands frequently, use alcohol-based hand sanitizers, and disinfect work areas on a frequent basis. In fact, you may even want to implement a daily schedule to ensure that no area is overlooked. Without proper sanitation procedures, spas can become breeding grounds for bacteria and viruses. Carvajal notes that it's important to read disinfectant product labels, because some require longer exposure times before removal to be effective. He also suggests installing sanitizer stations throughout your spa, such as near the front desk and in the locker rooms.
Despite you and your team's best efforts, it's not always possible to prevent an isolated incident or an outbreak. This is especially true when you consider that those infected with the flu virus can begin infecting others approximately 24 hours before showing any symptoms. That's why it is so important to determine a course of action for dealing with employees and clients who become ill. Here are some suggestions to help you prevent the spread of swine flu and other viruses in your spa:
- Urge all of your employees to get vaccinated.
- Consult with your local health department to determine what steps to take if a member of your staff is diagnosed with swine flu.
- Send home any employees showing symptoms.
- Encourage staff members who become ill to seek medical attention to determine if they have the H1N1 virus. If so, require them to get a release from their doctor before returning to work that confirms they are no longer infectious.
- Decide in advance how to handle clients who are exhibiting flu symptoms.
- Come up with a plan for notifying clients of any potential exposure and ask that they do the same if they or any of their family members are diagnosed with H1N1.
- Hire a professional cleaning crew to disinfect any area that has been exposed to the virus.
Although it's natural to be concerned about the effect flu season may have on your spa, a few simple precautions and an action plan can ensure your spa remains the health and well-being haven for which it's known. —Heather Mikesell
With an increase in the number of employees calling in sick or coming in to work feeling under the weather, flu season has the potential to wreak havoc on your spa's schedule. Carvajal suggests the following actions to ensure your spa is prepared:
- Forecast and allow for employee absences during flu season, establishing policies for compensation and sick-leave.
- Put together a list of on-call availability. If you don't have access to on-call labor, find out if your team can work extra days or hours.
- Make sure you have your team contact information updated and on hand. If possible, compile a list of both home and cell phone numbers in addition to personal email addresses. This way you can post last-minute open shifts. —H.M.
Hand sanitizers are just one way you can promote a healthy environment. Consider placing these products throughout your spa to encourage your staff and clients to clean up their act.
Citrus II Instant Hand Sanitizer: Deliciously fragrant, this moisture-rich gel helps lower the risk of disease and infections without soap or water and leaves no harmful residue. (800) 558-5571; www.universalcompanies.com.
CND CoolBlue Sanitizer: This refreshing water-free sanitizer helps prevent the transmission of germs. It leaves skin feeling soft and smooth, not sticky. (877) CND-NAIL; www.cnd.com.
Èminence Organic Skin Care Tea Tree & Mint Hand Cleanser: This USDA organic-certified, vegan cleanser is enriched with aloe, chamomile, peppermint, and tea tree oil. It's a non-drying, chemical-free alternative to harsh cleansers. (888) 747-6342; www.eminenceorganics.com.
Repêchage Clean Hands Anti-Microbial Hand Wipes: These wipes help protect against bacteria and germs with benzalkonium chloride, which is an effective agent against influenza. The compact individual packets are perfect for staying germ-free on the go. (800) 248-SKIN; www.repechage.com.
Thymes Essentials Instant Hand Cleaner: This alcohol-based formula features aloe to soothe while it cleans. (800) 366-4071; www.thymes.com.
Topical RX Antibacterial Hand Cream with Avocado Oil: Used in hospitals worldwide, this hydrating hand cream relies on benzalkonium chloride, shown by clinical research to destroy 99.9 percent of germs in just 15 seconds, to protect against avian flu, SARS, and swine flu. (866) 290-4290; www.topicalrx.net.
X3 Clean Foaming Hand Sanitizer: Recently proven to kill 99.99 percent of the H1N1 virus, this foaming sanitizer is alcohol-, dye-, fragrance-, and gluten-free. (877) 200-7727; www.spaelegance.com.—H.M.