Summer safety tips for Vermonters

For Immediate Release: July 3, 2007
Media Contact: Communication Office

BURLINGTON – Vermonters can do without sunburn, mosquito and tick bites, firework injuries, and foodborne and waterborne illnesses each summer. Most summer health risks are avoidable, and the Vermont Department of Health wants to remind people to take the necessary precautions to ensure a safe and eventful summer.

“Take steps to stay healthy and safe this summer, especially around July 4,” said Health Commissioner Sharon Moffatt, RN, MSN. “For example, sparklers should never be treated as toys and we recommend that a child never hold a sparkler or be permitted to ignite it without close adult supervision. Sparklers can burn very, very hot and cause extensive burns.”

Sparklers are the second leading cause of fireworks injuries that require hospitalization. Most of these injuries occur among preschool-age children. In 2005, an estimated 10,800 people were treated in U.S. emergency departments for fireworks-related injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Sun exposure is a health risk that should be a concern all year long. Skin cancer is the most common of all cancers, and sun exposure causes at least 90 percent of all skin cancers. Skin does not have to feel hot to get burned, so protect yourself even on cloudy days. Wear sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or greater, and apply at least 20 minutes before going outside. Protective sunglasses and hats are also recommended.

Hazards around water in the summertime are also common. Children should always be supervised near water, including bathtubs and pools. Personal flotation devices should be used on boats and during water sports. The Health Department recommends that people only swim in designated recreational swim areas that are tested regularly for E. coli levels.

Fooborne illness can be prevented by washing your hands regularly and never leaving perishable food out of the refrigerator for more than two hours. When the air temperature is above 90 °, do not leave food out for more than one hour. Use a meat thermometer when grilling to ensure meats have reached a safe, internal temperature: hamburger-160°; chicken-165°; pork-150°; steak-145°; and hot dogs-140°.

Use bug repellant containing DEET to keep mosquitos, insects and ticks away, as summer is peak season for West Nile Virus and Lyme Disease.

Heat related illness can be avoided by drinking more fluids and avoiding caffeine, alcohol or large amounts of sugar that cause you to lose body fluid. Never leave a child, adult or pet in a parked car on a hot day. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing, and – if possible – stay in an air conditioned place.

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