Protect Your Children This Flu Season

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Influenza claims the lives of about 100 children in the U.S. every year, hospitalizes around 20,000, and is the 8th-leading cause of death in the United States among people of all ages.

Despite these alarming statistics, influenza is typically not fatal in healthy children or adults. Influenza can be avoided if the right precautions are taken.

Cincinnati Children's doctors and the American Academy of Pediatrics give the following additional tips on how to stop the spread of flu germs:

>> Cough and sneeze into a tissue. If you don't have time to get a tissue, bend your arm and sneeze or cough into it. Teach your children to do the same.

>> Use tissues for wiping runny noses and catching sneezes. Throw the tissues in the trash after each use.  Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing frequently.

>> Avoid kissing your child on or around the mouth or face when either of you are ill.

>> Make sure everyone washes their hands before and after coming into close contact with someone with the flu. Everyone should wash their hands with soap and warm water for at least 15 seconds (about as long as one verse of “Happy Birthday”). You may also use a waterless hand cleaner in addition to hand washing or if soap and water are not available.

>> Don't let children share pacifiers, cups, spoons, forks, washcloths, or towels. Never share toothbrushes.

>> Wash dishes, forks, cups and spoons in hot, soapy water or the dishwasher.

>> Change cloth towels often and wash them in hot water.

>> Wipe all surfaces, including toys, with a disinfectant or soap and hot water. Viruses can live for more than 30 minutes on doorknobs, toilet handles, countertops, and even toys.

>> Keep children, particularly infants, away from secondhand tobacco smoke. Children who are exposed to tobacco smoke have an increased risk for respiratory illness.

>> Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth unless you know your hands are clean.  You may accidently inoculate yourself with germs left behind in the environment.