Geese honking as they fly in a V-formation.

The crunching of dry red, golden and orange leaves under your feet.

Cheers of enthusiastic fans at a football or volleyball game.

Even the pitter, patter of the first fall rain on the windshield of my car.

All those quintessential sounds signify fall has arrived and they are sounds I delight in hearing.

A sniffle, a sneeze and then a cough are the three sounds I dislike hearing the most because they usually announce it is also cold and flu season, and with all of us trapped indoors, the germs are circulating and spreading.

According to research from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, droplets from sneezes and coughs can travel up to 200 times further than previously believed. When a person sneezes or coughs, he isn’t just sharing his germs with his closest officemates, but potentially the entire office.

We all know the proper way to sneeze or cough is into a handkerchief or tissue or into the crook of our arm — if we aren’t “armed” with the proper tools.

But what else can businesses do to prevent germs from spreading. Here are a few tips:

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Encourage all your employees to get a flu shot. Keep tissue boxes nearby and even have on hand healthy foods like orange juice or fruits and vegetables. If an employee is sick with the cold or flu, encourage them to stay home. Unfortunately, it seems if one person gets it, everyone else gets it too.

Have on hand disinfectant wipes and makes sure to wipe down doorknobs, light switches, telephones and more.

It’s a good reminder but it’s also important to encourage good handwashing, especially before an employee uses a shared space such as a cash register or telephone.

Lack of sleep and stress can also contribute to a person getting sick, especially since the body’s defense system is down. When scheduling hours for employees, try to stay consistent or, if you change their hours, give them a day or two off before doing so. It is hard on the body to work 4 to midnight and then be back to work again at 8.

And most importantly, make the investment in your and your employees’ health by calling ABC Window Cleaners & Building Maintenance at 503-363-4457 to schedule daily, twice weekly or weekly office cleanings. Our janitorial crew works in teams and we provide top to bottom cleaning care for your office. We wipe down surfaces, not only to keep things clean but to help prevent germs from setting up shop.

While it’s almost impossible to avoid the clouds of germs traveling all around us, there definitely are some steps you can take to keep you and your employees healthy this fall and winter.