December 29th, 2015 in Pharmaceutical

What Weather Means To You & Your Flu

It is not possible to accurately predict what one flu season will be like over another as there are always factors at play that alter the timing, severity and length of the season.

In the United States, the flu season usually lasts from October to April and is always directly correlated with the cold winter weather, but not for the reasons you’d think. The connection here is not a coincidence but is often misinterpreted.

 

 

The myth is that you’re contracting the flu or the common cold due to the cold temperatures, but that’s not the case. When it is colder outside in the winter, there is less water vapor and less moisture in the atmosphere, making for colder and dry conditions that make it more ideal for influenza to remain in the air longer after someone sneezes or coughs.

The spread of the flu throughout the U.S. differs slightly state-to-state but overall is heavily impacted by the levels of humidity in the air. This means the virus is more likely to be inhaled by others due to the moisture in the atmosphere as opposed to the temperature.

Cold weather also drives people to more frequently stay indoors, which can help increase the likelihood of someone contracting the flu as they are in closer proximity to others. The density of people in a home, office or elsewhere makes it easier to spread the different flu strains, especially after someone coughs or sneezes nearby.

How to Counteract the Cold Weather & the Flu Season

It isn’t possible to alter the weather, so it is important to react accordingly. There are also distinct measures to help prevent the flu by washing your hands regularly and making sure to get a flu shot every year.

As a business, it is important to understand the severity of the upcoming winter, how long it will last, how cold it is predicted to get and what type of severe weather events to account for. Start by planning ahead of time as to how you’ll serve your customer base from an education standpoint, in addition to catering your product and service offerings to these circumstances accordingly.

If it aligns with your industry, whether that’s retail, media, energy, aviation, insurance or government, provide updated guidelines to customers as to how to best prepare for winter weather and prevent the lavish spread of the flu virus.

Most of the advice will remain the same year over year, but some will need to be altered to account for the specific conditions that season. For instance, the virus is more easily spread with lower relative humidity and colder temperatures as it can thrive in the air longer.

Include tips to help customers account for these conditions in your email newsletter, in-store signage, social media content and elsewhere. If you’ve got retail stores or facilities, the public can access, consider offering flu shots at your locations to illustrate your dedication to managing the flu this season.

To address a colder winter or a higher predicted prevalence of severe weather events like snow storms, consider catering your inventory assortment as a retailer to items that help customers better manage the weather like shovels and rock salt.

Alternatively, if you’re in the insurance sector, it is prudent to alert policyholders of when certain winter weather is hitting like a hailstorm to protect better them from potential damage. Use the weather forecasts on upcoming seasons to begin planning accordingly.

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