Steps to help kids avoid the flu
Health officials are reporting widespread influenza outbreaks in 47 of 50 states, up from just a week ago. One age group hit particularly hard is children and the American Red Cross has some steps parents can teach their kids to help them avoid getting sick.
Some children have gotten so sick they have had to be hospitalized. According to the Centers for Disease Control, while some of the children hospitalized had underlying medical conditions such as asthma, more than 40 percent of hospitalized children had no other medical conditions.
Kids have a way of picking up colds and other illnesses. Parents should teach children proper hand washing techniques and how to correctly cover coughs or sneezes.
Washing hands properly is an important step to avoid getting the flu. Wash hands with soap and warm water.
When using soap and water:
Wash for at least 20 seconds, covering the entire hand including fingernails and under jewelry. Younger children can be taught to sing a short song like "Row, Row, Row Your Boat," or the "Happy Birthday" song a few times, which will ensure they wash for at least 20 seconds.
Rinse and dry thoroughly with a disposable towel.
Use the towel to turn off the faucet.
If using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer:
Rub thoroughly over the entire hand, including nail areas and between the fingers.
Continue to rub until the product dries.
THE SCRUB CLUB
The American Red Cross and NSF International have collaborated to help parents and teachers reinforce kids' hand-washing habits. The Scrub Club is an interactive Web site that offers free materials to raise awareness about the benefits of hand washing to fight germs and prevent illness. The website features cartoon Webisodes featuring seven soaper-heroes and comes complete with educational materials, music and games. Visit www.scrubclub.org/ for more information.
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