Summertime safety important now that school is out

Monday, May 21, 2012

Summer is supposed to be a fun time for kids, whether it's playing organized sports or simply enjoying a change of pace from school. It's also a great time for family activities, but we need be careful to make sure there isn't danger involved.

The McCook Fire Department is getting involved by sponsoring an EMS for Children Day, from 4 to 6 p.m. Wednesday at the McCook Fire Station, 526 West B in McCook.

Activities will include blood pressure checks, ambulances on display, infant car seat checks and bicycle safety.

For more information, contact Dan Hartwell at the McCook Fire Department, (308) 345-5710.

Of course, summertime safety is primarily the responsibility of parents or other adults taking care of younger children.

With hot weather on its way, it's important to avoid sunburn with its potential for permanent skin damage and even skin cancer.

"Infants and children are especially sensitive to the burning effects of the sun," said Dr. Joann Schaefer, chief medical officer for the Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services.

Some tips:

* Avoid sun exposure during hours of peak sun ray intensity.

* Apply generous amounts of sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. Pay special attention to your face, nose, ears, and shoulders.

* Apply sunscreen 30 minutes prior to sun exposure to allow penetration. Re-apply after swimming and every 2 hours while you are outdoors.

* Wear sun hats.

* Wear sunglasses with UV protection.

* Use a lip balm with sunscreen.

When it's especially hot:

* Drink plenty of water and don't wait until you are thirsty to drink;

* Avoid alcohol and drinks with caffeine;

* Wear loose, light-colored clothing;

* If outdoors, slow your pace and take frequent rest breaks to cool off; and

* Limit your outdoor activity to morning and evening hours;

* If you have no air conditioning, seek out cool places like libraries and other public buildings where you can cool off.

And if you're planning a picnic or barbecue, keep these things in mind:

* Wash up. Using soap and water will help keep hands clean and keep food safe.

* Use your refrigerator or a cool water bath to thaw meat. Avoid the counter because temperatures are too high.

* Make it hot and keep it hot. Hamburger should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F and chicken to an internal temperature of 180 degrees F. Once you cook it, try to keep it above 140 degrees F.

* If it's cold, keep it that way. Cold foods need to stay below 40 degrees F and out of direct sunlight.

* Don't reuse utensils or dishes. Use a mixture of cup of bleach and one gallon of water to clean surfaces like cutting boards or countertops before using them again.

* Don't use the same platter for raw and cooked meats. Also, transport raw meat separately from other foods and double-wrap it to keep it from dripping.

* When you're done eating, put away foods as soon as possible after they're served. Leaving perishable foods unrefrigerated encourages the bacteria to grow.

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