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Steps to avoid getting the flu this winter

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DENVER -- The flu epidemic is hitting the United States hard. New York and Boston have declared a public health emergency because of the virus.

The flu has killed two children in Colorado, and has sent 506 people to the hospital. Last year, the flu hospitalized 543 Coloradans throughout the entire flu season, which typically lasts through March.

Many health clinics continue to see swamped waiting rooms, and doctors say there are some tips you can follow to help avoid getting sick.

Experts say the virus can live up to 18 hours on some surfaces, and one of the best things you can do at work and home is to wipe down surfaces.

Doctors also say it’s important to remind your kids to wash their hands frequently and for at least 30 seconds at a time. Something parents can do is to tell their kids to sing the alphabet twice, or sing the happy birthday song.

It is also best keep your distance from anything that may be contaminated.

Besides a flu shot, you should also cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough, and keep your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth.