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It's easy to say, "Keep the children home," when they get sick. The problem is, kids can come in contact with and spread an infection before any symptoms appear.

That's why it helps to watch for and prevent common illnesses that kids get, like the flu, pinkeye, and stomach flu. These tips from experts can help.

5 Basic Prevention Strategies

To keep contagious diseases at bay, start with basic hygiene:

  1. Always wash your hands before touching your mouth, nose, or eyes. Teach your children to wash their hands with soap before eating.
  2. Don't share items like cups, spoons, forks, straws, towels, pillows, or toothbrushes.
  3. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then toss the tissue. Or cough into your arm. Then wash your hands.
  4. To boost immunity, make sure you and your children eat right and are well-rested.
  5. Look at hand washing as a survival skill.

4 Quick Tips for Hand Washing

Washing your hands often is the best way to prevent spreading diseases. To wash well:

  1. Wet your hands and lather up with liquid or bar soap.
  2. Scrub all surfaces for 15 to 20 seconds.
  3. Rinse well and dry your hands.
  4. No soap and water? Use alcohol-based disposable hand wipes or gel sanitizers.

Children and adults should wash their hands:

  • Before and after preparing food
  • Before eating
  • After using the bathroom
  • After handling animals or their waste
  • After coughing or sneezing
  • More frequently if someone at home is sick

What to Disinfect and How

To stop germs in their tracks, the CDC recommends virus-killing chlorine bleach. Add 1/4 cup bleach to 1 gallon of warm water and allow the mixture to sit on surfaces for 10 minutes before rinsing.

When you disinfect, wear rubber gloves and a mask if the chemicals bother you, and work in an open area or with doors and windows open. Then disinfect:

  • Phones
  • Stair railings
  • Countertops
  • Bathroom surfaces (toilet seats, handles, faucets)
  • Remote controls
  • Microwaves and refrigerator handles
  • Door handles
  • Light switches
  • Toys