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Self-Care

Tips On How To Stay Safe And Healthy During the Hot Summer Months

The Keep Cool Illinois campaign reminds people how to stay safe and healthy during the hot summer months, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Governor Rod R. Blagojevich's public safety effort lists safety precautions for preparing and serving food, swimming in a pool and in the ocean, and avoiding mosquitoes and mosquito-borne diseases.

Food Safety: to help prevent food-borne illness

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water before handling any food and after handling raw poultry, meat, or eggs.
  • Thoroughly rinse fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Cook foods thoroughly, especially ground beef, poultry, and pork. While rare beef is sometimes popular, disease-causing organisms can survive in undercooked meat.
  • Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.
  • Make sure to keep raw meat, fish, and poultry cold until it is cooked and make sure it does not come in contact with ready-to-eat food.
    • Never place cooked meats on the same plate that held raw meats.
    • Do not leave food unrefrigerated for more than one hour at a time.
  • Foods served hot should be cooked just before serving time.

Food poisoning symptoms include severe cramps, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. They can occur any time from 30 minutes to three days after eating contaminated food. While most cases are mild and last only one or two days, if the symptoms last longer, contact a physician.

Swimming safety:

Pool

  • Do not let children swim unless there is no lifeguard or responsible adult who knows lifesaving techniques and first aid present.
  • Always have lifesaving devices available for emergency use.
  • Make sure covers are installed on all drains in a swimming or wading pool.
  • Only swim in pools where the water quality is properly maintained in order to avoid infection.

The water should appear crystal clear, be continuously circulated, and maintained to a level that allows water to overflow into a skimmer or gutter. The pool should not have a powerful chlorine or ammonia smell.

Ocean

  • Swim in water that is clean and odorless, where there aren't large bird populations.
  • Do not swim in stagnant water. Movement helps keep the water clean.
  • Avoid swimming after heavy rain, which can result in high levels of bacteria
  • Be careful when diving. Since ocean water is not very clear, obstructions may be hard to see.
  • Avoid having pool water in your mouth or nose.

Avoiding mosquitoes: West Nile protection

  • Avoid being outdoors between dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active.
  • When outdoors, cover up and use insect repellent with DEET, picaridin oil, or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
  • Make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens.
  • Eliminate all sources of standing water, which supports mosquito breeding.

Following these precautions will help you stay safe and healthy this summer.

Source: Illinois Department of Public Health

Address: Illinois Department of Public Health, 535 W. Jefferson St., Springfield, IL 62761; (217) 782-4977, www.idph.state.il.us.


© 2007 Health Resources Publishing