The unofficial “kickoff” to summer is almost here. While we hope everyone has fun this coming Memorial Day weekend. “Fun in the sun, by the pool, on a boat or at a barbecue can quickly send you to the emergency department if you don’t plan ahead or use common safety sense,” said Dr. David Seaberg with the American College of Emergency Physicians. “You can have fun while at the same time take reasonable precautions to help keep you safe and most importantly, keep you alive.”
Here are the top tips for you and your family for the holiday weekend.
Tip 1: Food Safety — Refrigerate all perishable food within 2 hours, 1 hour if the temperature outside is above 90 degrees. To guard against cross-contamination of bacteria, keep uncooked meats away from other foods.
To avoid food poisoning, the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture recommends cooking fresh poultry to 165 degrees, hamburgers to 160 degrees and beef to at least 145 degrees
Tip 2: Grill Safety — Emergency physicians see firsthand the dangers associated with an outdoor grill. Consumers should thoroughly clean a grill of any grease or dust. Check the tubes leading into the burner for any blockages from insects or food grease that can cause an uncontrolled fire. Replace any connectors which can lead to a gas leak and keep lighted cigarettes, matches or open flames away from any grill. Do not use a grill in a garage, breezeway, carport or porch or near any surface that can catch fire. Also, always follow the manufacturer's instructions that come with the grill.
Tip 3: Water Safety — To prevent drowning, avoid alcohol when swimming or boating. Wear a lifejacket whenever you are on a boat. Make sure young children are supervised at all times when near the beach, on a boat, or by a pool or hot tub. Don't swim alone or in bad weather. Learn to swim and teach your children to swim. We also recommend that you learn CPR in the case of an emergency. For more information on water safety check out our Healthy and Safe Swimming post.
Tip 4: Sun Safety — Protect against sunburn and heat stroke. Wear sunscreen with at least an SPF of 15 or higher and apply it generously throughout the day. Wear a hat outdoors and a good pair of sunglasses to protect your eyes. If you are a pet owner make sure your dog is protected from the sun with sunscreen that is safe for your four-legged family members. Talk to your veterinarian about sunscreens for your pet (don’t assume a sunscreen for people is appropriate for your dog). Believe it or not, dogs can sunburn, especially those with short or light-colored coats. And just like people, sunburns can be painful for a dog and overexposure to the sun can lead to skin cancer.
Tip 5: Hydration Safety – Drink plenty of water, especially when in the sun or if you are sweating heavily. If you feel faint or nauseous, get to a cool place immediately. Our pets, especially dogs, get much thirstier than we do when they get hot, and other than panting and drinking, they really have no way to cool themselves down. Get your pet in the shade as often as possible. While dogs and cats like to sunbathe, direct sunlight can overheat them (especially dogs) and cause heat stroke.
Tip 6: Travel Safety – Do not drink and drive or travel with anyone who has been drinking. Take along a traveler's first aid kit to help you be prepared for common emergencies. Wear your seatbelt at all times. Make sure your vehicle has been properly serviced and is in good working shape before a long road trip. Familiarize yourself with your surroundings if you are in an unfamiliar place and know where the nearest emergency room is. Also, avoid talking or texting on a cell phone while driving.
Tip 6: Pet Safety – Make sure your pets can not get access to the picnic basket or food that is about to be made or just prepared. Foods that contain xylitol are poisonous for dogs. Corn on the cob and peach pit can get stuck in their intestines and will require surgery to remove. While it’s very tempting to give your dog the leftover bond, it can also be life-threatening. Along with bones, BBQ bits, like gristle and fat should never be given to your dog. Certain breeds and dogs that are overweight are subject to pancreatitis. For us, fireworks are the highlight of the night, however, many pets are terrified of them. The loud noises and bright lights easily scare pets, which will make them want to get as far away as possible. Fireworks are also harmful to pets even when they’re not lit, as they contain hazardous chemicals. We love bringing our pets places, it means we get to spend more time with them! However, when you bring your pet to an outing, be sure s/he’s wearing s/he collar with up-to-date ID tags just in case s/he was to wander off. It never hurts to be careful.