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posted on May 24, 2010 12:59

 

Prepare for a Safe and Fun Holiday Weekend           
Summer is finally here for Idaho travel and outdoor enthusiasts. As residents prepare for coming months of outdoor recreation, a few health tips can make your travel and adventures more enjoyable and rewarding.
 
Water safety—Many of Idaho’s rivers are flowing at high levels, with the water extremely cold and hazardous. Plan your boating and swimming trips carefully to avoid fast-moving and dangerous waters. Other measures you should take include:
·         Supervise young children around water;
·         Wear an appropriate personal flotation device (PFD) when boating or tubing. Children should wear a PFD on beaches, docks and riverbanks;
·         Be aware that cold water can cause hypothermia and death in as little as 10 minutes. Avoid boating or swimming when consuming alcohol – drinking alcohol can accelerate the effects of hypothermia;
·         Irrigation canal water might look placid, but it is dangerous to swim in. An average of three children drown in Idaho canals each year.
·         When swimming in pools, remember that some parasites can survive proper chlorination. To protect yourself and others, do not get pool or recreational water in your mouth or swallow it. Shower before entering a pool and be sure to wash the bottoms of your children as well. Adults and children should not swim if ill with diarrhea. Wash your hands after using the toilet or changing diapers. Take children on regular bathroom breaks, and change diapers in the bathroom, not poolside.
 
Mosquito and tick prevention--The bites of mosquitoes and ticks can spread viruses and disease. Protect yourself and your family:
·         Apply insect repellent approved by the EPA to exposed skin and clothing, following instructions on the product label, especially when applying to children;
·         Check for ticks on clothing, body, hair, and pets after returning from tick habitat; and
·         If a tick bites you, use a fine tweezers or notched tick extractor to remove it as close to the skin as possible and pull upwards with a steady, even pressure. Disinfect the bite site and wash your hands with soap and water. Do not squeeze, crush, or puncture the body of the tick.
 
Food safety is always important, and the summer heat can present special considerations. To avoid unpleasant episodes of ‘food poisoning’ or food borne illness remember to:
·         Wash your hands regularly with a rich lather of soap, especially when working with raw meats such as hamburger or chicken. If you are camping and do not have access to running water, use hand sanitizer;
·         Keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot. Make sure that you have enough ice to maintain cold foods at or below 41°F. Put leftovers on ice as soon as possible. Any foods that have been ‘left out’ for four hours or more should not be eaten; 
·         Cook foods thoroughly to 165°F. Use a long stem meat thermometer to check the cooking temperatures of meats. Most meat thermometers come with specific temperature guidelines for safe cooking. The color of the meat is not always a reliable indicator of whether or not the meat is fully cooked;
·         Keep raw meats separate from other foods like salads or fruits; and
·         Don’t drink out of streams or lakes unless water is filtered or treated first. 
 
Sun safety--Sunburns are more than painful; they can lead to skin cancer. Remember to:
·         Cover up! Cover as much skin as possible with tightly-woven clothing and a hat with a 2–3 inch brim or a shade cap;
·         Use a sunscreen that protects against both UV-A and UV-B sunlight spectrums with an SPF of 15 or higher. Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside. Don’t forget sunscreen lip balm;
·         Reapply sunscreen regularly. No sunscreen, regardless of strength, should be expected to stay effective longer than two hours without reapplication. Apply more frequently if you are in the water; and
·         Wear sunglasses that block UV rays and protect your eyes.  
 
Travel safety—From Memorial Day throughout the summer, more vehicles will be traveling Idaho roadways. Travel safety tips include:
·         Be sure your vehicle is ready for travel. Check the tire air pressure (including the spare tire), along with belts, fluids, and lighting. Don’t overload your vehicle when traveling.
·         Make sure everyone in your car is wearing a seatbelt;
·         Don’t drive distracted by texting or talking on a cellphone, or adjusting an entertainment device. A car traveling at 65 mph covers 95 feet per second. A one-second distraction could result in a serious accident and injuries.
·         Be aware of symptoms of fatigue or ‘highway hypnosis;’ take a break if you feel drowsy;
·         Take your time and be patient; it’s better to get there in one piece. Allow ample space between your vehicle and others and pay attention to the speed limits and other traffic signs; and
·         Don’t drink alcohol and drive. Of the more than 25,000 vehicle collisions in 2008, 11% involved alcohol or drugs;
·         Don’t leave your child unattended in the car – even for a few minutes.
 
Most importantly, be prepared. Idaho’s diverse geography and sunny climate offers endless outdoor opportunities, but accidents or unexpected events can occur at any time. Carry a first-aid kit and enough food and water for an emergency. Always let friends or relatives know your travel plans. With a little bit of planning and by taking precautions, your outdoor experiences can be treasured for a lifetime.

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(Editors: For more information or interviews please contact Emily Simnitt at 334-0693, or your District Health Department Public Information Officer.)