Juana Macias-Christian

The beginning of the summer is always a great time for the whole family to enjoy different indoor and outdoor activities.

Whether it is enjoying a family barbecue, camping or going to the local river, the pool or splash pads, learn to keep everyone safe and healthy while enjoying the summer fun.

Water Safety

Drownings are still the leading cause of injury death for young children ages 1 to 4. It is preventable if everyone does their part.

  • Always supervise children in or around water. A responsible adult should watch young children uninterruptedly.
  • Teach kids to swim. Formal swimming lessons can protect young children from drowning.
  • Learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Your CPR skills could save someone’s life.
  • Install a cover, alarm or fence around home pools or hot tubs.
  • While on a boat or jet ski wear a properly fitted life jacket every time you and your loved ones are on the water.

Heat Safety

Heat-related illness happens when the body’s temperature control system is overloaded. Remember that infants and kids up to 4 years of age are at greatest risk. Even young and healthy people can get sick from the heat if they are out for long periods of time during hot weather. Kids’ skin needs protection from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays whenever they are outdoors. Research has shown that just a few serious sunburns can increase yours and your child’s risk of skin cancer later in life.

  • Stay hydrated all the time. Drink plenty of water, not carbonated drinks.
  • Never leave infants, children, or pets in a parked car, even if the windows are cracked open.
  • Dress infants and children in loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Schedule outdoor activities carefully, for morning and evening hours.
  • Stay cool with cool showers or baths.
  • Seek medical care immediately if your child has symptoms of heat-related illness.
  • Cover up. Clothing that covers your and your child’s skin helps protect against UV rays. Use sunscreen with at least SPF (sun protection factor) or 15 and UVA (ultraviolet A) and UVB (ultraviolet B) protection every time you and your child go outside.

Keeping Bugs Out

Always protect yourself and your family by preventing bites and diseases. Serious illnesses such as Zika virus and Lyme

disease can be transmitted by mosquitoes and ticks respectively.

  • Use an effective, safe insect repellent while playing outdoors.
  • Make your backyard a tick-safe zone.
  • Check yourself and your children for ticks. Ticks are easy to remove.

Food Safety

The hot weather is the perfect time to have a picnic or cook outdoors, but the warm weather also creates the perfect environment to support the growth of harmful food bacteria. Keep your food and family safe by following these simple tips:

  • Wash your hands constantly and properly.
  • Separate all cooked and raw foods.
  • Use a different pair of utensils, one to handle raw meat and one for cooked meat
  • Always keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot.
  • Monitor leftovers while cooking outdoors.
  • Wash all your produce thoroughly.
  • Defrost and marinate meats correctly, in the refrigerator is the safest place.

Remember you have a maximum of 4 hours for hot food and 6 hours for cold foods if kept at 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Once that time frame has expired, all food should be thrown out. You could use a cooler with ice to keep it safer for a longer period of time.

Have a safe and fun summer.

For additional information, call the County Extension Office at 256-582-2009.

(Juana Macias-Christian is an urban regional extension agent based in the county agent's office on the ground floor of the Guntersville Courthouse.)

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