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City Stresses Summer Safety for Vacations, Outdoor Gatherings

For Immediate Release: 7/2/2020 9:27 am

The summer months beckon families and children to venture outdoors, embark on vacations, and enjoy time together outside. Worcester offers plenty of opportunities to enjoy the summer, but with the COVID-19 virus still a threat, and other potential health and safety hazards, the City urges parents and caretakers to play it safe as they and their families head to the beach, pool, spray parks, camps, or even the backyard.

• While the City and its major hospital systems have seen a marked decrease in the numbers of COVID-positive cases, the virus remains a threat to public safety.
• Gov. Baker is reopening Massachusetts in phases. All Worcester residents are urged to follow all related protocols and guidelines.
• Always wear a mask/face covering when outside in cases where proper social distancing (6 feet) cannot be maintained.
• Avoid large gatherings of more than 10 people
• Wash your hands regularly with soap and warm water, or use hand sanitizer.

• The City reminds residents that the possession, transportation and use of fireworks in Massachusetts is illegal.
• Fireworks pose a threat to public safety and wellbeing.
• Fireworks caused a recent fire on Preston Street that displaced 11 people.
• The City has seen an alarming increase in the number of complaints about the use of fireworks.
• To report the illegal use of fireworks, please call the Worcester Police Department Complaint line at 508-799-8606. Anonymous tips may be texted to 274637.

Water Safety: 
Because of the coronavirus, there will be no swim awareness or swim lesson programs offered at any of the City-operated aquatic facilities. However, the City beaches, pools and spray parks will be open, with restrictions.
It’s always a good time to learn CPR—Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation - especially if you'll be supervising others.

• Always supervise young children around water (stay close enough to reach a child at all times and avoid distractions such as playing cards, reading a book, or talking on the phone). Always have a phone nearby in case of an emergency.
• A drowning can happen quickly, and usually silently. Avoid alcohol while supervising children and before or during swimming, boating, or waterskiing.
• Prevent water-related injuries and drowning by swimming with a buddy and swimming where there’s a lifeguard. Always use life jackets and secure personal flotation devices—do not substitute air-filled or foam toys for safety gear. When enjoying natural bodies of water, be aware of the local weather conditions and forecast. Strong winds and thunderstorms with lightning can be dangerous.
• Watch for dangerous waves and signs of rip tides/currents. Also know and obey the posted warnings. For example, beaches often have different colored flags (red, yellow, green) to indicate beach conditions. Pay attention to lifeguards or posted instructions.

Sun Safety:
• Seek shade, especially during midday hours.
• Wear clothing to protect exposed skin.
• Wear a hat with a wide brim to shade the face, head, ears, and neck.
• Wear sunglasses that wrap around and block as close to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB rays as possible.
• Use sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher, and both UVA and UVBUVA and UVB protection.

Food Safety:
• When grilling, use a meat thermometer to ensure that you cook meat and poultry thoroughly.
• Ground beef should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160°F. Also, put cooked meat on a clean platter, rather than back on the one that held the raw meat, to avoid cross-contamination.
• Whether you’re cooking out in the backyard or at a picnic, always keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot.
• When you’re finished eating, refrigerate leftovers promptly.

Outdoor Precautions:
Warmer temperatures aren’t just attractive to people, but also to mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas. Mosquitoes can transmit Eastern Equine Encephalitis and West Nile virus; ticks can transmit Lyme disease and other serious infections; and fleas can transmit plague.
• To prevent these illnesses, use an appropriate insect and tick repellent.
• Prime mosquito-biting hours are usually dusk to dawn, but ticks are out at all times. Empty any standing water on your property to eliminate breeding grounds. Secure all window and door screens and patch any holes.
• With mosquitoes, practice the 5 D’s:
o Dress in long sleeves and pants when possible. Cover up during periods of mosquito activity
o Dawn & Dusk are mosquitoes’ most active periods
o DEET is effective repellant. Follow instructions for use
o Drain water from containers
• To keep ticks at a distance, avoid tick-infested areas (especially places with leaf-litter and high grasses) and use repellent containing 20 percent DEET.
• You can also treat clothing with the repellent, permethrin, (which protects through several washings) or purchase clothing that is pre-treated with permethrin. Always follow the directions on repellent packaging.
• After coming indoors, shower as soon as possible and check your body for ticks.
• Make sure that your children also bathe or shower and get checked for ticks. Wash and tumble dry your clothing and check your pets for ticks.
• If you find an attached tick, don’t panic, ticks are easy to remove with a pair of fine-tipped tweezers. Consult your healthcare provider if you develop a rash, fever, body aches, or fatigue in the 1-3 weeks following a bite. It could be any number of illnesses.
• The City of Worcester has partnered with the Central Massachusetts Mosquito Control Project to offer comprehensive mosquito control services and programs throughout the summer. Spraying will only be done based on requests received from residents. Requests for service may be made Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. by calling 508-393-3055.

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