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86-Year-Old Woman Brings BB Gun to Town Meeting: Police


Westport police arrested an 86-year-old woman accused of bringing a BB gun to a town meeting. 

When detectives retrieved the gun, Estelle Margolis, 86, of Westport, told officers she brought it to make a point during a discussion about gun control to show how easy it is to purchase a gun, according to police. 

At 9:15 p.m. on Tuesday, a Representative Town Meeting member approached a Westport police officer and reported that he and another RTM member believed a woman walked into the auditorium with what they believed was a weapon under a white cloth, police said.

The Westport officer and a detective retrieved the rifle from the auditorium where the public meeting was in session and then found Margolis in the main lobby, police said.

Officers determined that the rifle was a BB gun rifle and Margolis told officers that she was planning to go up on the stage when the topic of gun control came up and make a point to the audience on how easy it was for her to purchase the gun, according to police.

In addition to the BB gun rifle, the woman had a box of 46-caliber pellets with her at the meeting, police said.

Margolis was issued a misdemeanor summons for breach of peace second and is due in court date.

“Regardless of what her reasoning was to bring the BB gun rifle to the meeting, it was a poor decision that created alarm and concern to the public. This incident could have clearly escalated into a tragedy,” police said in the news release.

Westport Now reports that Margolis is a town activist and has held anti-war demonstrations. 

Margolis said her attorneys advised her not to talk about the case until her hearing Jan. 18. Her attorneys declined comment as well and said her position would be heard in court.

Street Closures in Pomfret, Westport


Gusty winds have prompted road closures on Thursday morning.

Route 97 in Pomfret is closed at Cassidy Road and Route 169 is closed between Route 44 and Murdock Road because a tree has fallen on power lines.

Connecticut Light & Power is reporting around 170 outages this morning and 96 of them are in Pomfret. This is about 5 percent of CL&P's customer base in town.

In Westport, Post Road East is closed between East Main Street, near the Compo Shopping Center, and Crescent Road, near McDonald’s, because wires are down. 

It is not clear if this is because of winds, but no crash was reported in the area.

Utility companies are working to reopen the road, but the road will be closed for a portion of the morning rush hour. All drivers are asked to use alternate routes.

Winds will diminish in the afternoon.

Get up-to-date weather information on our weather page.

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Photo Credit: Steve Miller. NBC Connecticut

Water Main Break in South Windsor


Palmer Drive in South Windsor is closed because of a water main break on Thursday morning. 

Employees from Connecticut Water will repair the main.

Work is expected to be finished by 1 p.m. 

Local traffic will be able to reach homes in the area.


Photo Credit: Getty Images

Jenni Rivera's Entourage Files Lawsuit


Lawyers representing people traveling with banda singer Jenni Rivera on a plane that crashed in Mexico last month filed a lawsuit Thursday against the aircraft's owners and the singer's production company.

MORE: See the original complaint

The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleged that neither of the plane's two pilots - a 78-year-old and a 20-year-old - was qualified to fly the singer and her staff that day.

Named in the suit were Starwood Management, which owned the 1969 Learjet 25 in which the group was flying, along with its previous owner, McOco, Inc. Jenni Rivera Enterprises, Inc., was also listed as a defendant.

The suit was filed by survivors of Rivera’s publicist, makeup artist, hairdresser and lawyer. The group did not seek punitive damages against Jenni Rivera Enterprises, but it did seek them against the other companies.

The group, which included the singer as well as Arturo Rivera, Jaboco Yebale, Jorge Armando Sanchez Vasquez and Mario Macias Pacheco, had just taken off after a concert in Monterrey on Dec. 9 when the aircraft nosedived and crashed into a mountain.

Their lawyers, with the firm of Kiesel, Boucher & Larson in Beverly Hills, discussed the suit at a news conference on Thursday morning.

"An airplane dropped out of the sky and did a nose dive, and I know that shouldn't happen," said Paul Kiesel, the attorney for the plaintiffs.

The Rivera family did not want to comment on the suit, but representatives said they were surprised by the filing.

Kiesel said the legal action was in part an effort to find out what happened.

"I understand the deep sense of loss that they feel and I certainly don't want to add to that strife to them," Kiesel said. "But, on the other hand, I want to fully investigate all possible explanations as to why this aircraft went down."

Jets Casting a Wide Net in General Manager Search


It can sometimes be difficult to separate fact from fiction with the Jets and their current search for a new general manager is illustrating that all too well.

In the last couple of days, the Jets have added several names to the list of candidates for the job as the search has expanded out from the handful of people who were interviewed at the end of last week for the job. There were reports that a couple of those interviewees had impressed the team -- 49ers exec Tom Gamble and then-Falcons exec David Caldwell -- but neither one has the job. 

Caldwell is the new G.M. in Jacksonville (where he fired coach Mike Mularkey on Thursday, something to keep in mind as you read on) and the simplest explanation for the widening net is that the Jets need to dig deeper now that a guy who might have been their pick has decided to head elsewhere. That's not ideal, but it is certainly better than just grabbing someone else because you happen to have interviewed them already.

Another easy explanation of their long list of names is that they want to get the broadest possible look at the landscape before pulling the trigger on an important hire. The team hired a consultant to help them identify candidates and it makes little sense not to get your money's worth when it comes to seeing who might be out there. 

The group of candidates includes, among others, former Bears G.M. Jerry Angelo, Steelers cap management guru Omar Khan, Giants director of college scouting Marc Ross, Dolphins exec Brian Gaine and even the G.M. of the CFL's Montreal Alouettes, Jim Popp. It's a wide-ranging group that's even harder to read than most G.M. candidates, almost all of whom come to the job known only to football insiders because they've never held a job with that kind of responsibility before. 

Analyzing the quality of the search is difficult under those circumstances, but, on the face of it, talking to a lot of people hardly seems like a bad thing. There are a lot of talented folks in the NFL and you never know when you might be blown away or when you might hear something of value from a candidate who doesn't wind up getting the job. 

Since these are the Jets, though, there's no avoiding a less positive spin on things. That take revolves around Woody Johnson's decision to make keeping Rex Ryan as coach a precondition for the general manager and the owner's statement that Ryan will be involved in the search process.

It's putting it mildly to say that giving someone say in hiring the man who should have the power to fire him is a conflict of interest since the Jets need to identify the best person for the job and not the person who meshes the best with Ryan. When you've got guys choosing other jobs over the Jets (Tom Telesco was on the wishlist before he joined the Chargers), it is fair to ask why and, in this case, it's hard to ignore the Rex-sized elephant in the room. 

Mike Tannenbaum was more than willing to give Ryan the opportunity to take up all the air in the room, but a new hire is going to be cut from a different cloth. That doesn't mean they won't be able to get along with Ryan, but it does mean that the Jets have to be willing to change some of their organizational whims to accommodate the man who should be in charge of the football operations. 

Basically, there's a good reason and a bad reason for the Jets to be looking under every rock for their next general manager. Given everything else that's gone on with the team of late, it's not hard to guess which way we're leaning on that front. 

Josh Alper is also a writer for Pro Football Talk. You can follow him on Twitter.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Cute Panda Cub Makes Outdoor Debut

San Diego Zoo panda cub Xiao Liwu took his first steps in his new habitat on Wednesday. Elena Gomez reports.

Presidential Inauguration Gets First Latino, Gay Poet


The presidential inauguration ceremony is getting its first Latino and LGBT poet.

Richard Blanco, born in Spain to Cuban exiles, will recite a selection of his work during President Barack Obama's second inauguration on Jan. 21, Obama's Inaugural Committee announced. Blanco also will be the youngest inaugural poet at a swearing-in ceremony.

"Richard’s writing will be wonderfully fitting for an Inaugural that will celebrate the strength of the American people and our nation’s great diversity,” President Obama said in a statement.

Blanco's parents emigrated to New York City days after he was born then settled in Miami. Interested in the “engineering” of language, Blanco's first poetry collection, "City of a Hundred Fires," won the Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize and his second book, "Directions to The Beach of the Dead," won the PEN American Center Beyond Margins Award. 

He published a third collection in 2012 called "Looking for The Gulf Motel."
The Inaugural Committee describes his work as an exploration of "the collective American experience of cultural negotiation through the lens of family and love, particularly his mother’s life shaped by exile, his relationship with his father, and the passing of a generation of relatives. His work also explores the intersection of his cultural identities as a Cuban-American gay man."
"I’m beside myself, bestowed with this great honor, brimming over with excitement, awe, and gratitude,” Blanco said. “In many ways, this is the very ‘stuff’ of the American Dream, which underlies so much of my work and my life’s story—America’s story, really.  I am thrilled by the thought of coming together during this great occasion to celebrate our country and its people through the power of poetry.”

Photo Credit: Author Photo by Nico Tucci

Assault Rifle, Cocaine Seized in Bridgeport


Police and the FBI Safe Streets Task Force seized an assault rifle and a large amount of cocaine from a residence in Bridgeport on Thursday morning.

Police searched the Birmingham Street home of Johnathan “Coco” Colon, 25, on Thursday morning, and found a Bushmaster .223 assault rifle in the second-floor bedroom.

Police said Colon is a suspect in a recent “shots fired” incident.

He was charged with possession of narcotics with intent to sell, possession of an assault weapon and criminal possession of a firearm.

He is in federal custody. 

Pastor Out at Obama Inauguration Over Comments on Gays


Rev. Louie Giglio, an evangelical pastor from Atlanta tapped to give the benediction at President Barack Obama’s inauguration, has been dropped from the ceremony amid controversy over his past comments on gays, NBC News reported. 

The move comes after the liberal political blog Think Progress highlighted a past sermon where Giglio called homosexuality a “sin” and promoted “ex-gay” therapy. The site said the 54-minute sermon called “In Search of a Standard – Christian Response to Homosexuality” was from the mid-1990s.

For full coverage, visit NBCNews.com.

"We were not aware of Pastor Giglio's past comments at the time of his selection and they don't reflect our desire to celebrate the strength and diversity of our country at this Inaugural,” the Presidential Inaugural Committee said in a statement. “Pastor Giglio was asked to deliver the benediction in large part for his leadership in combating human trafficking around the world. As we now work to select someone to deliver the benediction, we will ensure their beliefs reflect this administration's vision of inclusion and acceptance for all Americans."

Giglio is founder of the massive Passion Conferences aimed at college students.

Four years ago, Obama faced a backlash from liberals when he tapped conservative pastor Rick Warren, founder of the evangelical megachurch Saddleback Church and high-profile opponent of gay marriage, to give the invocation.

His benediction that year was given by civil rights leader Rev. Joseph Lowery.

Photo Credit: WireImage

16-Year-Old Shot in Calif. High School


A student armed with a 12-gauge shotgun entered his classroom at a Southern California high school Thursday morning and shot a classmate, who is in critical but stable condition, and attempted to shoot another one, authorities said at an afternoon press conference.

The gunman was taken into custody after a teacher and campus supervisor intervened and convinced the student to lay down his weapon.

"If it weren't for this teacher and a quick response, we don't know," Kern County Sheriff Don Youngblood said at an afternoon press conference. About 30 students were in the classroom when the gunman entered about halfway through the session.

The teacher who intervened suffered minor injuries—possibly a pellet wound to the head—Youngblood added, while two other students also suffered minor injuries "during the melee of people trying to get out."

Emergency crews responded to the scene—about 120 miles north of Los Angeles (map)—at about 9 a.m. Students were evacuated to a football field, according KGET, and SWAT team members searched the school, room by room.

The shooter—described as a 16-year-old male student who lives near the school—had "a dialogue" with the victim before Thursday morning, Youngblood said. After shooting the first student, the gunman shot at, but missed, a second student as the teacher attempted to "get students out of the classroom."

The teacher and campus supervisor who confronted the gunman have not been identified, but were widely praised by law enforcement officials.

"The heroics go without saying. To stand there and face someone who has a shotgun and has already shot a student—we're very proud of the job they did," Youngblood said.

It was not immediately clear how the student gained access to the weapon, sheriff's officials said. Youngblood said the gunman had "numerous" shotgun shells in his pocket as the teacher and supervisor spoke with him.

"We cannot thank them enough for what they did today," said Taft Police Chief Ed Whiting. "They are really awesome people."

A school security officer is usually assigned to the school, but weather conditions might have prevented the officer from arriving at the campus Thursday, Youngblood added.

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a vocal gun control advocate who has pushed for an assault weapon ban in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting in Connecticut last month, said in a statement that her thoughts and prayers were with the victim of this latest shooting.

"I have visited this school over the years—in fact, my own father attended Taft Union," Feinstein said.

"How many more shootings must there be in America before we come to the realization that guns and grievances do not belong together?" she added.

House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, a Republican whose district includes the town Taft, issued a statement too, on behalf of himself and his wife.

"I am deeply saddened and troubled by news of the shooting," he said. "Judy and I offer our prayers to the victims, their families and the entire Taft community,"

The shooting occurred on the second floor of a science building on the campus, according to Kern County Sheriff's Department.

The high school is located in Taft, a city of about 9,500 residents near a massive oil field at the southwestern edge of the Central Valley.

Photo Credit: KGET

Former Guardsman a Suspect in South Windsor Beatings


South Windsor Police have identified a suspect in an attack on the owner of Forced Induction Motor Sports, LLC on Edwin Street on Tuesday night and an employee.

South Windsor police said they are looking for Nathaniel “Nate” Chambers, 27, of Meriden. a former Sergeant in the Connecticut Army National Guard. Chambers was honorably discharged from the Guard in September 2012, according to Col. John Whitford.

The victims have been identified as Robert Lareau, 28, of Enfield, the business owner; and his employee, Ryan Kelleher, 21, of Windsor.

Kelleher called police at 9:20 p.m. to report that he and his boss had been beaten at the business, which is located at 51 Edwin St., police said.

Lareau was not responsive when police arrived.

Both had head and facial wounds and were taken to Hartford Hospital, police said. Lareau is in intensive care, according to police.

No guns were used, police said.

Police said Chambers is wanted to conspiracy to commit assault in the first degree and conspiracy to commit robbery in the first degree.  The department has released two photos of Chambers. He is clean shaven in one and has a beard in another.

Anyone with information about Chambers’ location is asked to call South Windsor Police at 860-644-2551.

Police said they are pursuing information on other possible suspects


Officer Shot in Norwich Standoff Released from Hospital


A Norwich police officer who was shot several times during a standoff in Norwich this week was discharged from Yale-New Haven Hospital on Thursday morning, nearly three days after being shot.

It was an emotional departure for Jonathan Ley, a 14-year veteran of the department, who waved to the nearly 100 officers there to greet him.

Fellow officers applauded as Ley left the hospital and he wiped away tears as he was placed in an SUV.

Ley was in critical condition when he was admitted to the hospital on Monday and his condition has improved over the last few days.

State police said Jason Razzino, 30, shot Ley during a standoff before taking his own life.

Ley, a veteran of the Coast Guard, has been with Norwich Police for 14 years. Police said he is a highly decorated veteran of the department.

He is the father of a 2-year-old son and is described as outgoing.

Ley was shot while responding to the Cedar Glen Apartment complex at 99 Cedar Street around 2:45 p.m. on Monday after receiving a report of a despondent person with a weapon who threatened to commit suicide-by-cop.

Around 3:55 p.m., several shots were fired and Officer Ley was hit in the arm, leg, back and base of the neck, police said. 

He was rushed by ambulance to Backus Hospital in Norwich and then transported to Yale-New Haven Hospital, according to State Police.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Child Porn, Binoculars Found in House Near School: Cops


Police have arrested a Stamford man accused of downloading child pornography and they believe he used binoculars found in his house to watch the elementary school next door.

Police started investigating the importation of child pornography at the Stillwater Avenue home Roland Roqueta, 69,  in October 2012, according to police, and investigators determined that there were hundreds of downloads of child pornography to the address.

Roqueta ‘s house is next to Westover elementary school, so police notified the States Attorney’s Office and obtained a search warrant.

He had an unobstructed view of the front of the elementary school from his back door, according to police.

On Thursday, police executed the search warrant and seized hundreds of images of child pornography, other evidence and two pairs of binoculars that officers believe were being used to watch the elementary school.

Police do not believe that Roqueta had contact with any children or that he approached children at the school.

Roqueta is cooperating with police and said that he had no contact with any children, police said. He was not on any sexual registry anywhere in the state or the United States, according to police.

Roqueta was charged with possession of child pornography in the first degree, importing child pornography and promoting a minor in an obscene performance.

Bond was set at $150,000 and police continue to investigate.

Vietnam Vet Awarded Medals 40 Years After Combat Duty


A Vietnam veteran from West Haven is getting some recognition that is long overdue. 

Michael Healey finally received five awards that he earned in Vietnam more than 40 years ago. 

“I didn't ever think I'd see this day,” said Healey.

Thursday, Healy was awarded the Army Commendation Medal for meritorious service in combat, the Vietnam Service Medal with two Bronze Service Stars, The Republic of Vietnam Campaign Ribbon, the National Defense Service Medal and a Marksmanship Badge.
Rep. Rosa DeLauro pinned the medals on Healy Thursday in the West Haven Council Chambers.

“It represents their honor, their service, their sacrifice, and their commitment to a great nation,” said DeLauro.

Healy was a combat engineer in Vietnam. He built bridges and cleared mines to allow troops safe passage during the conflict.

“I'm very proud to be a veteran today,” said Healey.

Flu Outbreak in Connecticut; What Should Parents Do?


The flu continues to pack a powerful punch this season. Connecticut is among the dozens of states reporting a sharp increase in flu cases.

“People everywhere are getting sick,” said Natalie Vaz.

Health officials said children are especially vulnerable.

“They can get sicker. They can develop pneumonia as a complication. They require hospitalization more frequently,” said Theresa Hendricksen, a nurse and COO at the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford, which has been extra busy this winter.

“[We have had] little to no beds available for the past two weeks. Non-stop straight,” said Hendricksen.

Hendricksen said vaccinating your kids is a good idea, as is making sure they keep their hands clean.

“Make sure they cover their mouths when they cough or sneeze…tell them to keep their hands under water while they sing the ‘Happy Birthday’ song.”

That’s advice Aiden Loeser, 8, takes to heart.

“Sometimes I bring a packet of Purel.”

Despite the outbreak, Hendricksen said the worst may be over.

“The number [of flu cases] this week are stable compared to last week. The numbers are still higher than they were two years ago, but we’re not seeing an increase.”

About 1,600 confirmed cases of influenza have been reported in Connecticut this winter. Health officials said even if you or your child haven’t been vaccinated yet, it’s not too late.

Photo Credit: AP

How a Smartphone App Could Help Police Catch a Criminal


A Torrington woman is hoping new technology will help police catch the people who robbed her.           

An app on Julie Stoner's stolen smartphone may have caught the criminal on camera Thursday. She was at Toad’s Place in New Haven a few weeks ago for a church function.

Someone swiped her cell phone from a table when she walked away.

"This is not ok; Who goes into a church function and steals?" Stoner questioned.

Stoner looked up her account and saw someone had used it, but she could not reach anyone when she called. She texted her phone number many times.

"We had sent texts to them pleading with them, please turn in the phone, please turn in the phone," Stoner explained.  

Then she made a startling discover on her own computer. Someone snapped a lot of pictures with Stoner’s cell phone. They were automatically uploaded to her online Dropbox account. It is a service for storing photos and videos that Stoner can check from anywhere.

"There are pictures of these people celebrating their Christmas with their family," Stoner said.

She printed out the pictures right away and took them to New Haven Police, and hoped they could track down that phone.

"I can’t afford to buy a new phone," Stoner admitted.

Julie said a woman in the pictures was at Toad’s Place at the time of that church function, but the suspected thief was still out there.

"I want them arrested, I want charges pressed against them," Stoner added.

The pictures could be the key to crack this case, and for Stoner to get that phone back.

"It's my phone, it's my phone. I paid for this phone it has my pictures on it, and has my contacts in it," she said.

If you have any information on this case call New Haven Police at 203-946-6321.

Missing Seymour Teen Found


Police have canceled an alert for a 14-year-old Seymour boy who had last been seen on Thursday.

Police said Romando Jamal Davidson had an argument with his custodial grandfather, packed a duffel bag and left.

They thought he might be heading to his grandmother’s house in Far Rockaway, New York, police said.

When Romando was seen last at his Seymour home, he was wearing a dark green hooded Abercrombie & Fitch sweatshirt, white sweatpants with red letters, blue sneakers and a Giants baseball cap.  

Police canceled the alert at 8:58 a.m. and said the case was resolved.

Three Flu Deaths in Connecticut


So far this season, Connecticut has 1,676 laboratory-confirmed reports of influenza, including three flu-related deaths.

Public health officials are urging people to take steps to prevent the flu.

“We have seen a sharp increase in flu activity over the past few weeks here in Connecticut,” DPH Commissioner Dr. Jewel Mullen said. People should take steps to avoid getting the flu,
including getting vaccinated. Even though the flu is here, it’s still not too late to get vaccinated.”

The three patients who died were all over the age of 65 and all had underlying medical condition, according to a health department spokesperson.

There has been an increase statewide in emergency department visits, outpatient visits and
hospitalizations related to influenza and influenza-like illness, according to state officials.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) encourage all people over the age of 6
months old to be vaccinated.

Vaccines are encouraged for everyone, health officials said, but especially for high-risk groups, including children from 6 months to 18 years of age, women who will be pregnant
during the flu season, people at least 50 years old, anyone with certain chronic medical
conditions and people who live in nursing homes or long-term care facilities.

This year’s flu vaccine includes three different strains of the flu virus and is a good match to the strains circulating this year, according to health experts.

Whether you get the flu vaccine or not, there are ways you can avoid the flu this year and stay

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick, too.
  • Stay home when you are sick. If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Call your healthcare provider if you think you have the flu. Antiviral medications can help if taken early in the illness. Seek medical care immediately if the person develops any of the following symptoms: Fast breathing, trouble breathing or bluish skin color, pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen (adults), confusion or sudden dizziness,  not drinking enough fluids, not being able to eat, or severe or persistent vomiting, flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough, not waking up, being so irritable that the child does not want to be held or not interacting (children), fever with a rash (children), no tears when crying or significantly fewer wet diapers than normal (children)
  • To get vaccinated for the flu: check with your regular heath care provider to see if they have the flu vaccine available, vsit the HealthMap Vaccine Finder to find a flu clinic near you.


Victims Stabbed, Sexually Assaulted During L.A. Mall Hostage Situation


One person was sexually assaulted and another was stabbed in the neck during a hostage situation at a Los Angeles shopping mall that ended early Friday.

That hostage situation in a Nordstrom Rack store ended early Friday when a police SWAT team freed at least 14 people, hours after they were taken hostage by two gunmen and held in a storage area.

The hostages were being interviewed early Friday morning to determine what happened before 10 p.m. Thursday night, when LAPD officers from the Pacific Division received a 911 call from a man who said his girlfriend saw two armed men enter the store.

An officer on the scene then witnessed a man coming of the store who then ran back inside.

"That heightened officers' suspicion that something wasn't right," said LAPD spokesman Andy Neiman.

The officers later saw another man grab a woman, and he also and ran back into the store as well. That's when officers knew they had a possible robbery in progress and a tactical alert was issued. 

By 11:45 p.m., additional units were called to the scene, including LAPD SWAT officers who surrounded the Nordstrom Rack. A long search was conducted.

Shortly after 2:00 a.m., SWAT officers found 13 women and one man holed up inside a storage room and a bathroom. They were escorted out of the store and questioned by authorities. 

It is not clear what the men were armed with, police said. The promenade closes at 9 p.m. on Thursdays, according to its website.


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Flu Tips for Parents of Young Children


As the flu outbreak grows nationwide, pediatricians are seeing patient volumes increase dramatically.

And Loyola University pediatrician Bridget Boyd says it’s not just one child per visit.

"I’m seeing either one child or two children in the family, and the parents are also sick with flu like symptoms. ... I’m seeing entire families," said Boyd.

Boyd on Thursday said there’s a safe way to battle the flu virus, and the first "no no" on the list is providing cough and cold medicines for kids under the age of four years.

For children between the ages of four and six years, over the counter cough and cold medicine should only be administered under a physicians supervision, she said.

The assistant professor of pediatrics explained that even for children older than six, parents should be careful to read labels because age is only part of the equation; many of the dosage recommendations are based on weight.

So what’s the danger if young children get these over the counter cough and cold meds?

"The reason we don’t recommend them is that accidental overdose is especially common with over the counter cough and cold medications," she said. "The side effects can even include an rapid or irregular heart beat and even convulsions."

As a parent herself, Boyd said she understands a caretaker's caring concern.

"The most frustrating thing is you want to give them something to make them feel better," she said.

Aside from medicine, Boyd reminded that there are other remedies:

For babies under the age of one year, nasal passages can be cleared using a nasal spray and bulb syringe. It's especially helpful if done before the child eats.

A humidifier by the bed also helps, and for kids three months or older, Boyd suggested a chest rub like the one Vicks makes.

Once a child is older than one, they can get honey, a natural cough suppressant.

For all ages, however, parents need to keep an eye out for dehydration.

Sometimes, she said kids won’t drink because their throats are so sore. Parents can try giving the child a Popsicle or painkiller before they drink something so it’s less uncomfortable.

However, Dr. Boyd said the most important measure is one parents have likely heard: get a flu shot.

For babies under the age of six months, who can’t get the vaccine, protection comes from having all the adults and other kids around them vaccinated.

In this outbreak, she said the youngest and the oldest are most at risk because of how sick they can get.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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