Health and Family Services Cabinet
Remember to Follow Public Health Guidelines on Memorial Day
Make Sure Illness, Injury Don’t Spoil Summer Fun
For many, Memorial Day represents the unofficial beginning of summer, marking the onset of barbecues, parties and water sports. With that in mind, the Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) reminds the public to continue to follow guidelines for food, outdoor and water safety.
“Activities like grilling, spending time outdoors and swimming are wonderful ways to celebrate the holiday and the onset of warm weather, but it’s important to practice a few standard rules of public health,” said DPH Commissioner Dr. William Hacker. “Practicing food safety while preparing and storing food will prevent harmful bacteria from multiplying and causing foodborne illness. The same goes for the pool and spending time outdoors – take necessary steps to eliminate unhealthy conditions from the water, sun exposure and mosquitoes.”
Here are some food safety tips from the DPH Food Safety Branch:
− Wash your hands before and after handling food. Be sure all utensils and plates are clean.
− Use the refrigerator for thawing or thaw food under cool running water. You may also use the microwave for thawing, but food should be immediately grilled when thawed. Always marinate meats in the refrigerator.
− Use a meat thermometer to check for the following internal meat temperatures:
o Poultry 165 degrees Fahrenheit
o Red meat 160 degrees F
o Pork 160 degrees F
o Fish 160 degrees F
− Refrigerate meat and poultry until ready for use. After cooking meat and poultry on the grill, keep it at 135 degrees F or warmer. To properly judge the temperature of meat, use a meat thermometer.
− Place leftovers into shallow containers and promptly refrigerate.
With recent flooding in Western Kentucky and high amounts of rain around the state, the prevalence of mosquitoes is higher than normally observed this time of year. To avoid being bitten by mosquitoes – which is a nuisance and can create a public health threat if mosquitoes carry disease – DPH recommends the following:
− Survey property for areas of standing water, and eliminate mosquito breeding areas by removing it as it accumulates. Destroy or dispose of tin cans, old tires, buckets, unused plastic swimming pools or other containers that collect and hold water. Do not allow water to accumulate in the containers for more than two days.
− Be aware that mosquitoes are most active at dawn, dusk and early evening, and stay inside if possible.
− Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants outdoors.
− Spray exposed areas of skin and clothing with repellents containing permethrin, DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide), picardin or oil of lemon eucalyptus. (For more information on insect repellents visit the CDC website.)
− Apply insect repellent sparingly to exposed skin. Be sure to read and follow the manufacturer’s directions for use.
− Report swimming pools that are neglected and in a state of disrepair to the local health department.
Overexposure to sunlight can lead to extreme pain and skin injury, particularly for young children. DPH stresses the importance of adults supervising and taking adequate precautions on behalf of children to protect them from serious sunburn.
In addition to immediate pain, overexposure to sunlight, sun damage and burns can heighten the risk for developing skin cancer. Some tips for avoiding sunburn or side effects linked to sun exposure are:
− Avoid sunbathing.
− Avoid tanning parlors.
− Wear a hat that shields your face from the sun.
− Limit your sun exposure. The sun is hottest and strongest between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
− Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 15 or greater.
− Wear sunglasses that are UV rated.
− Choose cosmetics, moisturizing creams and lotions that contain sunscreen.
− Protect your lips with products that have a sun protection factor of 15 or greater.
To avoid illness related to swimming or exposure to water (known as recreational water illnesses or RWIs), DPH advises that swimmers visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website at http://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/swimming.
A variety of illnesses fall under the RWI category, including gastrointestinal, skin, ear, respiratory, eye, neurologic and wound infections. The most commonly reported RWI is diarrhea. Diarrheal illnesses can be caused by germs such as Crypto (short for Cryptosporidium), Giardia, Shigella, norovirus and E. coli O157:H7.
Also remember to:
− Check residential pool water by using test strips purchased at your local hardware or pool supply store.
− Ask public pool operators about chlorine and other chemical levels and request information on the latest pool inspection score.
− Encourage pool operators to follow procedures for killing the germs that cause RWIs.
In addition, swimmers are advised not to swallow pool water or swim when you have diarrhea. Practice good hygiene, including showering with soap before swimming and washing hands after using the toilet or changing diapers. Parents of young children should take them on bathroom breaks or check diapers often. Diapers should be changed in a bathroom or a diaper-changing area and not poolside. Children should be thoroughly washed with soap and water before swimming.
For more information, please contact your local health department’s environmental health professionals, or the department’s food safety branch at (502) 564-7181, or environmental management branch at (502) 564-4856.