Summer is here and that means summer sun and summer fun. You don’t want to miss a minute of summer fun so follow these important safety tips to enjoy your summer instead of spending it at the ER.
Burgers, Hot Dogs and Salmonella?
Summer is the season of backyard barbecues and spending time outside with family and friends. Independence Day is just around the corner and most of us will find ourselves flipping burgers behind the grill or bringing a container of grandma’s famous potato salad to the party. But if you aren’t careful about handling foods during cookouts, you can be at risk for potential food-related illnesses.
Experts say food poisoning peaks in summer months for two main reasons: bacteria grow fastest in warm, humid weather, and people generally don’t pay as much attention to food handling when eating outside.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are more than 200 diseases that can be spread through food. The following is a list of 9 rules suggested by the CDC that can help you have a safe cookout.
- Keep your hands clean; dirty hands are the most common way food gets contaminated.
- Wash cooking equipment, dishes and utensils between uses. Be sure to clean the grill’s surface after each use and to wash cutting boards after cutting raw meat.
- Rinse fruits and vegetables—meat and poultry aren’t the only foods that harbor bacteria.
- Store all perishables in a cooler with ice on top, not just underneath. Bring one cooler for drinks and one for food. Never eat anything that has been left out of a refrigerator or cooler for more than two hours.
- Invest in a meat thermometer as the time needed to cook foods thoroughly on a grill may be different than your stove at home. A meat thermometer is the best way to ensure you’ve cooked foods adequately.
- Teach your kids about food safety, such as the importance of hand washing and that food can make them ill if not properly handled.
- If you’re planning to be outside for a while, bring non-perishable snacks that won’t spoil.
- Symptoms of food poisoning usually develop 8 to 48 hours after eating the contaminated food. If they persist or grow severe, contact your doctor.
- When in doubt, throw it out! If you think something was contaminated while being prepared, was improperly cooked or has sat out too long, throw it away.
Backyard Pool Safety
What could be better than a dip in the pool during a hot day? Swimming, a popular summer activity, can also be dangerous for children and parents who aren’t aware of the possible dangers associated with backyard pools. Consider these statistics about water-related injuries in the United States:
- Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related death (after car accidents) among kids under age 14.
- Most drownings involving children ages 1 to 4 occur in home swimming pools.
- The majority of young children who drown were last seen in the care of one or both parents in the home, and had been out of sight for less than five minutes.
- Young children can drown in less than two inches of water.
Protect your children from drowning at the pool or the beach by following these suggestions.
- Never leave your child alone in or near the water, even for a moment.
- Install a fence with self-latching gates at least four feet high around all sides of any backyard pool.
- Keep rescue equipment (a shepherd’s hook and a life preserver) and a telephone near the pool or swimming area.
- Whenever possible choose to swim near a lifeguard.
- Avoid inflatable swimming aids such as “floaties”—they are not a substitute for a certified life vest.
- Anyone supervising children should be able to administer CPR.
Remember, teaching your children how to swim does not automatically make them safe in the water or mean they do not need supervision.
Play it Safe in the Sun
Pool parties, cookouts or just hanging out—there are countless opportunities to enjoy time in the sun. But it’s important to shield your skin from the damaging effects of the sun. If you’re outside, you need to be protected.
Learn to build safe sun habits into your family’s daily routine. Lead by example—children will respond better when they see you protecting your skin. For example, use the American Cancer Society’s Slip! Slop! Slap® safe sun basics to begin teaching your kids healthy sun habits. Remind them to:
- Slip! on a shirt—always wear protective clothing when out in the sun.
- Slop! on the sunscreen—use one with an SPF of 15 or higher.
- Slap! on a hat—that shades your face, neck and ears.
Just a few serious sunburns can increase your risk of skin cancer later in life, so stay safe in the sun by protecting your skin.
Manage Your Summertime Allergies
Warm weather and high humidity can put a strain on seasonal allergy and asthma sufferers. It’s a peak time for certain types of pollen, smog and mold. Below are some survival tips to help you manage your allergies during the summer months.
- Protect yourself during prime allergy time—stay indoors between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m., when outdoor pollen counts are usually the highest.
- Avoid extremes—going between intense outdoor heat and indoor air conditioning can trigger an asthma attack and other allergy symptoms.
- Wear a mask when mowing the lawn or around freshly cut grass. Also, take a shower, wash your hair and change your clothes to remove any pollen that may have collected on your body. You should also dry clothing inside, rather than on an outside line.
- If you’re allergic to bees, protect yourself. Wear shoes, long pants and long It’s a good idea not to wear scented deodorants, hair products or perfumes, as these attract bees.
Be prepared for summer allergies regardless of where you are. Pack medicines in your purse or carry-on bag when traveling and bring extra just in case. It’s better to be over-prepared than miserable and missing out on all the fun!
Surviving Summertime Scorchers
To make sure your day at the beach is exactly that—a day at the beach, not a trip to the emergency room—you need to be aware of heat-related illnesses.
Prolonged or intense exposure in hot temperatures can cause heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion, heat cramps and heat stroke. Heat exhaustion occurs when the body loses large amounts of water and salt. As in heat exhaustion, heat cramps can strike when the body loses excessive amounts of fluids and salt, and is accompanied by the loss of other essential nutrients such as potassium and magnesium. The most serious of the heat-related illnesses, heat stroke, occurs when the body suffers from long, intense exposure to heat and loses the ability to cool itself down.
By reducing exposure to high temperatures and taking other precautions, most heat-related illnesses can be avoided. Prevention is your best defense in protecting your health when temperatures are high. Remember to keep cool and use common sense. Below are some important prevention tips to follow:
- Drink plenty of fluids, regardless of your activity level. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty and don’t drink liquids that contain caffeine, alcohol or large amounts of sugar—these actually cause you to lose more body fluids.
- Wear appropriate clothing, such as lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses.
- Schedule outdoor activities carefully—plan your activities during morning or evening hours rather than during the sun’s peak times. Also, try to find as much shade as you can and rest often.
- Pace yourself—if you’re not accustomed to being in heat, don’t push your body to stay out in it all day.
Following these safety tips will help keep you healthy so you can make the most of your summer fun. We at Roper Insurance wish you a happy, healthy and fun summer season.