By the HELP Committee and Havre Public Schools for the Havre Daily News
Summer is here, and while we all want to have some fun in the sun, we also need to be sure to play it safe. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released information that will help all of us have a happier, safer summer.
Sun and heat
Studies show that more than a million cases of the most common forms of skin cancer are diagnosed each year, and that even a few serious sunburns can increase your risk of getting skin cancer. You can protect yourself during the time of day when the sun's ultraviolet rays are strongest - between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. - by wearing long sleeves and pants, and by applying sunscreen and a protective lip balm with an SPF of 15 or higher. Be sure to reapply frequently, especially after swimming.
Heat exposure caused 8,015 deaths in the United States from 1979 to 1999. Most heat-related deaths occur in the hot summer months, and the elderly, the very young and people with chronic health problems are most at risk. Because even healthy people can fall victim to summer heat, take the following precautions to reduce your risk:
Drink plenty of water or other nonalcoholic beverages.
Wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing that is light in color.
Reduce strenuous activities or do them during the cooler parts of the day.
Thousands of Americans drown each year, and thousands more are injured or killed in boating accidents. Drowning is the second leading cause of injury-related death for children age 14 and under. Follow these common-sense precautions for safe summer fun in the water:
Always have an adult closely supervise young children anytime they are swimming, playing or even bathing in water.
Never swim alone or in unsupervised locations. Teach your children to always swim with a buddy.
Never drink alcohol before or while swimming, boating or water skiing, and never drink alcohol while supervising children.
Learn to swim, as swimming lessons benefit adults and children age 4 and up.
Properly maintain your pool to help prevent the spread of infectious diseases. Never swallow pool, lake or river water.
Summer is the season for outdoor barbecues and picnics; however, food-related illness can put a damper on those outdoor fests. CDC estimates that 76 million Americans get sick from food-related illnesses every year. More than 300,000 end up hospitalized and about 5,000 die each year from foodborne illness. Protect yourself and your friends and family in these ways:
Cook meat, poultry and seafood thoroughly. Use a meat thermometer to be sure your grilled meats are done. Ground beef, for example, should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
Don't cross-contaminate one food with another. Wash your hands, utensils and cutting boards after they have been in contact with raw meat or poultry and before they touch another food.
Bacteria can grow quickly at room temperature, so refrigerate leftover foods promptly.
Wash produce thoroughly to remove visible dirt, and discard the outermost leaves of a head of lettuce or cabbage.
CDC has released a new and expanded edition of "Health Information for International Travel." The book, commonly referred to as "The Yellow Book" and considered by many to be the gold standard on travel information, contains new information on scuba diving safety, high altitude travel, travel information for individuals with specific health needs, and travel with children. The book is available online at http://www.cdc.gov/travel/yb/index.htm.
For more information about these and other safe summer tips, contact the HELP Committee and Boys & Girls Club of the Hi-Line at 265-6206.