As the Fourth of July weekend quickly approaches, many are only thinking of the festive gatherings with friends and family, not their safety. Real Times Media and the Chicago Defender want people to have fun, but also want them to follow a few health tips that will avoid injury and illness.
“We want everyone to stay safe while celebrating the holiday and throughout the summer. I encourage all Illinois residents to use and share these tips for a more enjoyable summer,” said director of IDPH, LaMar Hasbrouck, in a press release.
These tips can be followed throughout the summer, not just this weekend.
WATER AND SWIMMING SAFETY – whether at the beach, on the lake or in a swimming pool, use safety precautions.
- Supervise young children around water
- Always use life jackets and secure personal flotation devices
- Avoid alcohol while supervising children and before or during swimming, boating, or waterskiing
- Shower before you enter a swimming pool and do not swim if you have diarrhea
- Be aware of the local weather conditions and forecast, especially watch for thunderstorms with lightening
- Know and obey the posted warnings about beach conditions
- Pay attention to lifeguards and posted instructions
- Prevent access to water when pool is not in use
SUN AND HEAT – protect yourself against sunburn and heat illness.
- Never leave anyone, including pets, alone in a closed, parked vehicle
- Apply sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher 30 minutes before going outside
- Increase your intake of fluids – drink more liquid than your thirst indicates; avoid alcohol and caffeine
- Wear lightweight, light-colored, loosing-fitting clothing
- Be aware of heat exhaustion symptoms: heavy sweating, weakness, dizziness, nausea, clammy skin,pale or flushed complexion, and fast and shallow breathing
o If present, be sure to move the person to a cooler place; remove or loosen tight clothing; apply cool, wet cloths; and give cool water to slowly drink
- Be aware of heat stroke symptoms – hot, dry skin, hallucinations, chills, throbbing headache, high body temperature, confusion/dizziness and slurred speech
o If present, be sure to call 911; quickly cool the person in a cool bath or wrap wet sheets around them; if the victim refuses water, is vomiting or shows a decreased level of consciousness, do not give anything to eat or drink
FOOD SAFETY – for cookouts and picnics, temperature is key to avoiding foodborne illness.
- Wash hands and keep surfaces clean
- Make sure all meat and poultry are properly cooked
- Use a clean plate and utensils when taking food off the grill
- Keep hot food hot and cold food cold
- Refrigerate leftovers within two hours, and if you have doubts, throw it out
Know the symptoms of most types of food poisoning, which include severe cramps, fever, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and bloody diarrhea. Symptoms can begin from 30 minutes to three or more days after eating contaminated food. If symptoms are severe or last longer than two days, contact a doctor or health care provider.
TICKS AND MOSQUITOES – camping, hiking or in your own backyard, guard against insect illnesses. Mosquitoes can transmit West Nile virus and ticks can transmit Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Ehrlichiosis and other serious infections.
- WEAR INSECT REPELLENT. Apply insect repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR 3535, according to label instructions.
- Avoid being outside during prime mosquito-biting hours, dusk to dawn
- Avoid tick-infested areas, such as the woods and high grasses
- Remove ticks attached to the body using a pair of tweezers and call your health care provider if you develop a rash, fever or body aches during the 1 to 3 weeks following a bite
- Check with a veterinarian about preventing tickborne diseases in pets as they can carry ticks into the home
For more information about summer safety, check out our “Summer? No Sweat. A Summer Survival Guide” at www.idph.state.il.us/public/books/summtoc.htm.