Although so much of our summer is full of fun … it’s important to be familiar with summer safety tips to protect you and your family!

Fireworks with sillhouette of people watching.

How to prevent food-borne illness this summer

Don’t let food be what spoils your holiday celebration!

  • Safety begins at the grocery. Get cold foods just before you go to the grocery checkout, and store raw meat and poultry separately from other foods to avoid cross contamination. Put your perishables in the air-conditioned part of your car for the drive home. Refrigerate items immediately when you arrive. Meats that will not be used within two days should be frozen.
  • Don’t overfill your ‘fridge. Having enough room for air circulation inside the refrigerator is important for effective cooling. If you are catering for a crowd, keep drinks on ice or in an insulated cooler and reserve the space in your ‘fridge for food.
  • Thaw correctly. Do not thaw meat on the countertop. Proper thawing can be done safely in the refrigerator, under cold water if packages are completely sealed, or in the microwave, but only in the microwave if you plan on cooking immediately afterward.
  • Marinate with caution. Always marinate in the refrigerator and if you plan on using the extra marinade as a sauce for the cooked food, make sure that it comes to a full boil before you serve it.
  • Cook properly. Don’t rely on color as an indicator of doneness. Meat cooked on a grill often browns very fast on the outside. All poultry should be cooked to 165ºF, and the same goes for hot dogs. Hamburgers should be cooked to 160ºF. Don’t think about putting the cooked food back on the same plate that held it raw.
  • Mind food temperature. After cooking, hot foods should be kept at 140ºF or warmer until served. Never leave food out of the cooler or off the grill for more than two hours and in really hot weather (90ºF or above) food should not sit out for more than one hour.
  • Keep everything clean. This means everything that may come in contact with your food, including your hands, utensils and serving dishes. If you are out, bring antibacterial wipes and hand sanitizer.
  • Leftovers: Keep or Toss? Leftovers should be refrigerated and eaten within 3–5 days. Never eat food that’s been un-refrigerated for more than four hours – especially poultry, meat, seafood, cooked rice and cooked pasta.

When to call the Doctor

Seek medical attention if you have:
■ Severe, continuing abdominal pain
■ Persistent vomiting
■ Neurologic signs, such as numbness
■ A fever over 100 degrees, especially if you can’t control it with acetaminophen.
■ Diarrhea that is substantial and lasts three or more days
■ Blood in the mucous or stool
■ A known serious risk from dehydration (such as young children, the elderly, and people with underlying medical conditions)
■ If you have a chronic disease (such as diabetes) check your blood glucose and call your physician if diarrhea and/or vomiting last greater than 24 hrs

Splash Into Safety

All summer long, East Tennesseans flocking to lakes and pools. While these activities are a great time to relax and socialize, they can easily end in a visit to the emergency room or a fatality due to drowning.

Dad and daughter swimming in water with lifejackets on.

Before you and your family head outside and into the water, note the following safety tips:
 

  • Avoid alcohol while swimming and/or boating. Drinking is a major contributor to drowning deaths, as it can impair your coordination and judgment. If your group does decide to consume alcohol, designate a boat driver who will not drink.
  • Don’t swim alone. Going out on a boat or to swim by yourself means no one will be able to assist you or call 911 immediately if you are injured.
  • Don’t assume everyone can swim. From children to adults, many people do not know how to swim. Check with those in your group to see who is a strong swimmer and who is not.
  • Stay out of the water during storms. Because severe weather can come on quickly in East Tennessee, check the radar before you head out. Immediately get out of the water and take cover away from metal objects, open areas and large, lone trees during thunder and lightning storms.
  • Don’t jump or dive into unknown bodies of water. Lakes, quarries and rivers may look deeper than they are and can contain hidden rocks and other obstructions. Never jump or dive off trees or cliffs. Your jump may result in severe injury or death.

Say no to sunburns

While everybody needs some sun exposure to produce Vitamin D, unprotected exposure to the sun’s ultraviolent (UV) rays can cause damage to the eyes, skin and immune system. It can also cause cancer. When your skin tans, it is reacting to the sun’s UV light and making melanin, which is the pigment of a tan. Tanning does not prevent skin cancer, nor does it reduce the sun’s other harmful effects on your skin. During the summer, especially, properly protecting your skin against the sun’s harmful rays is essential for your long term health and well-being.

The best way to limit sun damage is to reduce exposure to it. Prevent sunburn by following these tips from the American Academy of Dermatology:
■ Apply a generous amount of broad-spectrum water-resistant sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 30 to all exposed skin. Broad spectrum means the sunscreen protects you from both UVA and UVB rays. Reapply every two hours and after swimming or sweating.
■ Wear protective clothing, such as a long-sleeved shirt, pants, wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses whenever possible.
■ Seek shade between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun’s rays are strongest. If your shadow is shorter than you are, move to a shady area.
■ Use extra caution near water, snow and sand. They reflect the damaging rays of the sun which can increase your chances of sunburn.
■ Do not use tanning beds. If you want to appear tan, use a self-tanning product in addition to daily sunscreen.
■ Monitor your body for changing, growing or bleeding spots and moles. Skin cancer is very treatable when caught early.

Over-the-counter and prescription medications may increase the skin’s sensitivity to UV rays. As a result, you may develop a severe sunburn in just minutes when taking certain medications. Read medication labels carefully and use extra sunscreen as needed.