10 Ways to Keep Your Kid Free of the Flu

She also noted that parents who bring sick children to the doctor can help prevent the spread of the illness to others who come in.

"When your kid's the one with the snotty nose, try to walk around after them and wipe up after them," Grossman said.

Keep Surfaces and Toys Clean

Joe Lastinger of Grapevine, Texas, takes some extra steps to keep his home clean of germs and viruses, in part because of his family's personal tragedy: In February 2004, they lost their then 3-year-old daughter Emily to influenza.

Since then he has become a board member of Families Fighting Flu, an organization that educates about the dangers flu can pose to children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 20,000 children are hospitalized with influenza each year, and last season, 86 children died.



Precautions Lastinger takes to keep his home's surfaces free of the flu include a deep cleaning each week of places like light switches and door handles, where germs and viruses tend to congregate.

Some places, he notes, he tries to clean more often.

"There's some places we hit daily," he said.

He also has his three children, Christopher, 12, Andrew, 10, and Anna, 4, try to avoid bringing new germs into the house.

"When the kids enter the house, they always wash their hands," Lastinger said.

He acknowledges that his family probably goes much further than most, but he believes he didn't know enough when Emily was stricken.

"We thought, how come we didn't know about this?" he said.

And so he has tried to make sure other parents do know.

"We never would have thought that influenza was so deadly," Lastinger said. "Influenza is nothing to be messed with."

Try to Teach Kids Not to Touch Their Faces

Unfortunately, children are consistently putting their hands near their faces, which can give them any viruses their hands might have picked up.

Also, sick children can spread their viruses by getting whatever they have on their hands, which invariably are going to touch many other things around them.



There may be no way for children, or even adults, to keep themselves from doing it entirely.

"Generally, at some point, our hand goes to our nose, whether we like it or not, and that can transmit flu viruses from one person to another," St. Louis University pediatrician Ken Haller told ABCNews.com last month.

Because there may not be a way to keep children from touching their faces, keeping their little hands clean may be the best option.

"Unfortunately, you're mostly left with good hand-washing," Virginia's Pappas said.

Sneeze in Your Sleeve

Parents have long told children to cover their mouths and noses when they cough or sneeze but, unfortunately, that doesn't tell them what to cover it with. Even adults may be unsure of what to do when they feel a sneeze coming on but don't have a tissue handy.

As the CDC spells out on its Web site, a tissue is the ideal thing to cover your mouth and nose with when coughing or sneezing, but a sleeve should be the first substitute.



"If you don't have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not your hands," the site advises.

"We try to teach our kids to do things, like when they sneeze, to sneeze into their elbow and not get stuff on their hands," Lastinger of Families Fighting Flu said.

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