Land of the Free and Home of Healthy and Happy: Tips from the IDPH for a Safe 4th of July

Fourth of July is right around the corner, which means people across the country are getting ready for big red, white and blue blowouts to celebrate our nation’s independence. The Illinois Department of Public Health has outlined four safety areas that should be monitored to avoid illness and injury. Follow these tips make the most out of quality time with friends and family this holiday weekend!

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Food Safety
• Wash hands with soap and water and keep all work 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.

Water and Swimming Safety
• 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 Safety
• 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, loose-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.

Tick and Mosquito Safety
• WEAR INSECT REPELLANT. Apply insect repellant that contains DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR 3535, according to the 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 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 tick-borne diseases in pets as they can carry ticks into the home.

*Source: Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH)

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