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posted on May 20, 2009 11:06

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                      Tom Shanahan
May 20, 2009                                                                                                                        (208) 334-0668   

   

Prepare for a Safe and Fun Holiday Weekend               

High river flows will greet many Idaho outdoor enthusiasts this Memorial Day weekend, the traditional kick-off for summer fun and travel. 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 at or near flood stage, with flows from melting snow 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. Teach your children to stay away from canals, just as you would teach them to stay away from highways; and
·        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. Do not swim when you have diarrhea, and wash your hands after using the toilet or changing diapers. Take children on regular bathroom breaks, and change diapers in the bathroom, not at 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’ 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 cause 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; and
·        Wear sunglasses that block UV rays and protect your eyes.  
 
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 Tom Shanahan, 334-0668, or your District Health Department Public Information Officer.)