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Continuing Safe Summer Fun for National Safety Month!

| Category: Healthy Homes / Healthy Families
summer safety tips

Tips to help you and your family enjoy a safe and healthy summer break.

It’s the end of June, which means summer vacation is underway! The schools are empty and the pools and beaches become more populated, ice cream trucks are out in full-force, and the winter jackets are tucked away under the bed or in the back of the closet. As you enjoy spending time outdoors with your family and friends in the warm weather, it’s important to remember to be mindful of some simple safety measures that can help maximize your summer fun! Here, we’ll be covering safety measures for graduation parties, how to keep your home pest-free, Zika prevention tips, and UV prevention for the sunny days.

Here are some tips to enjoy a happy summer season:

Stay Educated when Celebrating those who Graduated

As you celebrate your young family members completing one phase of their education and continuing onto the next, it’s important to remember some key safety tips for any celebrations or get togethers you might be attending. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offer these tips for hosting a safe and successful family gathering:

  • Serve food and drinks that are low in calories, sugar, salt, fat, and alcohol and be sure to include a variety of fruits and vegetables.
  • Proper food preparation can prevent foodborne illness (also known as food poisoning). Make sure hands are washed and cooking utensils and surfaces are clean. Avoid cross-contaminating. cook meat, poultry, and eggs thoroughly, and refrigerate any leftovers.
  • Be sure to move around frequently during events and do not sit for the entire time of the event.
  • Know and share your family health history and use that to influence meal choices.
  • If there is a pool, practice safe swimming measures and be sure to stay informed on preventing unintentional drowning.
  • Stay hydrated and remember to keep cool in hot weather.

If you are hosting, remember to communicate with guests ahead of time to find out if any attendees have food allergies. If you are attending someone else’s celebration, be sure to inform them of any food allergies you or your children may have. Reference FARE’s Food Allergy Field Guide for more information.

If there are any decorations such as balloons, small party favors, sparklers, or fireworks, make sure that children are kept away from them completely in the absence of adult supervision. These objects can become safety hazards, as children may put balloons or small toys in their mouths or injure themselves with sparklers or fireworks.

Enjoy the Great Indoors

Keeping your residence clean and well-ventilated in the summertime is important to having a healthy home. As the temperature rises, rodents may try to enter your home to seek refuge from the heat.  The National Pest Management Association (NPMA)  states that rodents serve as vectors, often carrying bacteria, such as salmonella, which can contaminate food sources, surfaces, and equipment.

The NPMA recommends these measures to effectively prevent rodents in your home:

  • Install door sweeps on exterior doors and repair damaged screens.
  • Place screens on vents and chimney openings.
  • Seal cracks and holes on home exterior with caulk, steel wool, or a combination of both.
  • Store food in airtight containers and dispose garbage regularly.
  • Keep attics, basements, and crawlspaces ventilated and dry.
  • Replace loose mortar and weather stripping around basement foundation and windows.
  • Eliminate all moisture sites (leaking pipes, clogged drains, etc.)
  • Inspect items such as boxes, grocery bags, and packages brought into the home.
  • Store firewood at least 20 feet from the house and keep shrubbery trimmed.
  • If you suspect a pest infestation, contact a licensed professional to treat the problem.

However, maintaining a healthy home during the summer months is more than just keeping it pest-free. Practice efficient energy-saving, such as using natural ventilation techniques on windy days, as well as properly using ceiling and window fans to reduce AC unit output.

Remember to also check for common health hazards in the home, such as signs of lead paint (peeling, chipping, or chalking paint) and mold on walls or other surfaces. If you encounter any mold, be sure to clean it and remove it from your home safely. For more information on safe mold removal, the CDC provides an informative infographic on this topic.

Say No to Zika

While you’re outside this summer, be sure to protect yourself against mosquitoes. This will help prevent chances of you or your child contracting the Zika virus. Zika can also be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus and may cause certain birth defects. Common symptoms of Zika include fever, rash, headache, joint pain, red eyes, and muscle pain. If you think you may have contracted Zika, especially if you have traveled to a Zika-infected region (such as Puerto Rico, Mexico, or  Florida), consult your doctor for recommended treatment.

Though no vaccine currently exists for Zika, there are preventative measures to reduce chances of being bitten and ways to control mosquito presence at your home. The CDC recommends the following for controlling mosquitoes:

  • Remove standing, stagnant water from your property to prevent mosquitoes from laying eggs.
  • Kill mosquitoes outside your home with outdoor insect spray. Mosquitoes typically rest in dark, humid areas like under patio furniture or in a garage. Always follow label instructions when using insecticides.
  • Install or repair screens on all windows and doors. Do not leave them propped open and use air conditioning when possible.
  • Use an indoor insect spray if needed to kill mosquitoes indoors. Always follow label instructions when using.

To further prevent mosquito encounters, use bug repellent with DEET 30 when spending time outdoors. The CDC recommends to always follow product label instructions, do not spray repellent on skin under clothing, and apply repellent second if you are also planning to wear sunscreen.

As for children, the CDC recommends that parents do not use repellent on babies younger than 2 months old, and instructs parents to spray bug spray onto their hands and applying it to a child’s skin. Avoid applying repellent to child’s hands, eyes, mouth, or any cut/irritated skin. Products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or para-menthane-diol (PMD) should not be used on children younger than 3 years old. Instead, opt for a DEET 30 product. Be sure to also dress your children in clothing that covers their limbs and cover cribs, strollers, and baby carriers with mosquito netting to further avoid contact.

Stay Safe in the Sun

The sun produces harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays and these can be unhealthy for you or your child to absorb through the skin. The Environmental Working Group states that the best defenses against UV radiation are protective clothing, shade, and timing. Keep infants in the shade, as they do not yet have tanning pigments that can protect their skin.

The EWG also states that another effective method for avoiding UV radiation is planning around the sun. Rather than heading outside at midday, plan your outdoor activities in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid the sun at its strongest.

If you want to apply sunscreen, the EWG also provides tips to best use protective ointments:

  • Stick to SPF strengths between 15 and 50. Reapply often.
  • Avoid sunscreen with vitamin A (also called retinyl palmitate or retinol).
  • Avoid oxybenzone – a synthetic estrogen that can disrupt the hormone system. Use products with zinc oxide, 3 percent avobenzone, or Mexoryl SX instead to block UVA radiation.
  • Buy insect repellent separately and spray on body after applying sunscreen.
  • Don’t pick a spray sunscreen. A topical cream one is preferred.

The EWG also recommends that parents apply sunscreen to their children. To test for any allergic reactions, apply a small amount to the inside of a child’s wrist on a day prior and check for any rash or itching. Be sure to apply sunscreen liberally your child’s skin, especially if they are playing in the water or sweating at a high amount. For brand-specific information on sunscreens and child safety, check out the EWG’s sunscreen consumer report on worst-scoring sunscreens for kids.

Read Up for National Safety Month

As June is National Safety Month, take some time during the second half of this month to learn general safety measures relevant to your lifestyle. The National Safety Council has a large wealth of resources for you to browse at your leisure. Hope you have a great, safe summer!

Want more safety tips for your outdoor activities? Check out our blog post from last month, which covers food allergies at cookouts, swimming in pools, and cleaning your AC window unit. 

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