As we head into the Fourth of July holiday weekend, Illinois Department of Public Health Director Nirav D. Shah, M.D., J.D. urges residents to take a few easy steps to help avoid injury and illness during the summer.
“During the Fourth of July holiday, many people have plans for picnics and pool time. I would like to remind everyone that taking a few simple precautions can help prevent foodborne illness, heat exhaustion and insect bites,” said Director Shah.
FOOD SAFETY – for cookouts and picnics, temperature is key to avoiding foodborne illness.
- Wash hands with soap and water and keep surfaces clean
- Keep hot food hot and cold food cold
- Make sure all meat and poultry are properly cooked
- Refrigerate leftovers within two hours, and if you have doubts, throw it out
- Use separate cutting boards, plates and utensils for raw meats, and a clean plate and utensils when taking food off the grill
- Wash fruits and vegetables
Know the symptoms of most types of food poisoning, which include severe cramps, fever, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and bloody diarrhea. Symptoms can begin from 30 minutes to three or more days after eating contaminated food. If symptoms are severe or last longer than two days, contact a doctor or health care provider.
WATER AND SWIMMING SAFETY – whether at the beach, on the lake or in a swimming pool, use safety precautions.
- Supervise young children around water
- Always use life jackets and secure personal flotation devices
- Avoid alcohol while supervising children and before or during swimming, boating, or waterskiing
- Shower before entering a swimming pool and do not swim when ill with diarrhea
- Be aware of the local weather conditions and forecast, especially watch for thunderstorms with lightening
- Pay attention to lifeguards and posted instructions
SUN AND HEAT – guard against sunburn and heat illness.
- Never leave anyone, including pets, alone in a closed, parked vehicle
- Apply sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher 30 minutes before going outside
- Increase fluid intake – drink more liquid than thirst indicates; avoid alcohol and caffeine
- Wear lightweight, light-colored, loosing-fitting clothing
- Be aware of heat exhaustion symptoms: heavy sweating, weakness, dizziness, nausea, clammy skin, pale or flushed complexion, and fast and shallow breathing
- If present, be sure to move the person to a cooler place; remove or loosen tight clothing; apply cool, wet cloths; and give cool water to slowly drink
- Be aware of heat stroke symptoms – hot, dry skin, hallucinations, chills, throbbing headache, high body temperature, confusion/dizziness and slurred speech
- If present, be sure to call 911; quickly cool the person in a cool bath or wrap wet sheets around them; if the victim refuses water, is vomiting or shows a decreased level of consciousness, do not give anything to eat or drink
TICKS AND MOSQUITOES – whether camping, hiking or in the backyard, guard against insect illnesses. Mosquitoes can transmit West Nile virus and ticks can transmit Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Ehrlichiosis and other serious infections.
- WEAR INSECT REPELLENT. Apply insect repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR 3535, according to label instructions
- Avoid being outside during prime mosquito-biting hours, dusk to dawn
- Avoid tick-infested areas, such as the woods and high grasses
- Check for ticks people and pets for ticks every 2 to 3 hours
- Remove ticks attached to the body promptly to help prevent diseases. Use tweezers to remove the tick and call a health care provider if a rash, fever or body aches develop during the 1 to 3 weeks following a bite.
- Check with a veterinarian about preventing tickborne diseases in pets as they can carry ticks into the home.