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School's Out Summer Safety Tips

For Immediate Release: 6/25/2013 11:01 am

Worcester, MA (June 25, 2013) - Summer is enjoyable for adults and kids alike, but with the arrival of school vacation children are outdoors much more frequently and exposed to increased recreational hazards. Now that school is out, the Central Massachusetts Regional Public Health Alliance is urging parents and caretakers to remember important summer safety tips as the kids head out to the pool, camp, or even the backyard.

"One of the most important things caretakers can do is to educate themselves about child safety as well as follow simple safety tips to help prevent unnecessary injury," said Michael P. Hirsh, MD, Acting Commissioner of Worcester's Division of Public Health. "It is important for adults to stay alert, be mindful of potential risks, provide close supervision and take preventive measures to keep children, as well as themselves and others, healthy and safe this summer."

Water Safety

  • If you've never learned to swim, now's the time.
  • 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) However, always have a phone near-by 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% of both UVA and UVB rays as possible.
  • Use sunscreen with a sun protective factor (SPF) 15 or higher, and both UVA and UVB protection.
  • Avoid indoor tanning.

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 on 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 to mosquitoes, ticks and fleas. Mosquitoes can transmit 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 and apply it properly.
  • Prime mosquito-biting hours are usually dusk to dawn, but ticks are out at all times. Empty out any standing water on your property to eliminate breeding grounds. Secure all window and door screens tight and patch any holes.
  • To keep ticks at a distance, avoid tick-infested areas (especially places with leaf-litter and high grasses) and use repellent containing 20% 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.

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