Celebrating summer’s last hurrah

August 30th, 2013

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Aug. 30, 2013) – With families preparing to celebrate the end of summer, the Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health is encouraging them to do so safely.

Labor Day weekend generally signals the traditional end of summer, and many will be gathering this weekend for picnics, barbecues and pool parties. However, these same activities carry some inherent risks if residents do not take the proper precautions.

West Nile virus and other mosquito-borne diseases are commonly found throughout the state each summer and there is usually an increase in activity in August and September.  The recent dry, hot weather has led to fewer nuisance mosquitoes but more of the type of mosquitoes that transmit disease.  So far this year mosquitoes from 59 counties in Indiana have tested positive for West Nile virus. Of 209 samples tested in Allen County, 22 were found positive for the virus.

Everyone should wear insect repellent when spending time outdoors until the first hard freeze. Resident are also reminded to remove potential breeding sites by cleaning or covering their swimming pools, removing flower pots and un-rimmed tires, and eliminating other sources of standing water.

Parents need to exercise caution with their children when swimming. Drowning continues to be the second leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 19, claiming the lives of roughly 1,100 children in 2006. Toddlers and teenaged boys are at greatest risk. Parents should closely supervise children around water and learn to perform CPR.

Recreational water illnesses are spread by swallowing, breathing, or having contact with contaminated water from swimming pools, spas, lakes, rivers, or oceans. Be sure to practice good hygiene by not swimming when you have diarrhea and by washing your hands after using the bathroom or changing diapers.

While the warm weather is perfect for picnics and cook-outs, it is also the ideal growing conditions for the bacteria that cause foodborne illness. Backyard chefs need to practice safe food handling practices such as monitoring food temperatures and avoiding cross-contamination to keep from passing along foodborne illnesses to their party guests.

Mosquito Prevention Tips

Check your property for breeding sites.  Eliminate any sources of standing water.  Clean out gutters and birdbaths.  Properly dispose of tires.  Maintain swimming pools and hot tubs. Make sure septic tanks, rain barrels and garbage cans are covered.

  • Install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out of the home.
  • Limit time spent outdoors during peak mosquito biting times.
  • When possible, wear loose, light-colored clothing, long-sleeved shirts and pants.
  • Apply an insect repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535.

Swimming Safety

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) offers specific advice for parents to reduce the risks of childhood drowning:

  • Never – even for a moment – leave small children alone or in the care of another young child while in bathtubs, pools, spas or wading pools, or near irrigation ditches or standing water.
  • Closely supervise children in and around water. With infants, toddlers and weak swimmers, an adult should be within an arm’s length. With older children and better swimmers, an adult should be focused on the child and not distracted by other activities.
  • Children need to learn to swim. AAP supports swimming lessons for most children 4 years and older.
  • Parents, caregivers and pool owners should learn CPR.
  • Counsel teenagers about the increased risk of drowning when alcohol is involved.

To help prevent the spread of germs that cause recreational water illnesses (RWIs), the CDC recommends that swimmers should take these simple steps:

  • Don’t swim when you have diarrhea. You can spread germs in the water and make others sick.
  • Don’t swallow pool water and avoid getting water in your mouth.
  • Practice good hygiene. Shower with soap before swimming and wash your hands after using the toilet or changing diapers. Germs on your body end up in the water.

Food Safety

The United States Department of Agriculture suggests these steps for safe food handling:

  • Wash your hands. Always wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food.
  • Sanitize surfaces. Surfaces should be washed with hot, soapy water. You can also use a solution of 1 tablespoon of liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of water.
  • Separate food when preparing and serving. Use a clean cutting board for fresh produce and a separate one for raw seafood, meat or poultry. Don’t place cooked food back on the same plate or cutting board that previously held raw food.
  • Marinate properly. Always marinate food in the refrigerator. Don’t use sauce that was used to marinate raw meat or poultry on cooked food. Reserve a portion of the unused marinade to use as a sauce.
  • Check temperatures. Use a food thermometer to ensure that food is properly cooked and is held at safe temperature until eaten. Hamburgers should be cooked to 160ºF, while large cuts of beef such as roasts and steaks may be cooked to 145ºF for medium rare or to 160ºF for medium.  Poultry must reach a temperature of 165°F. Fish must reach an internal temperature of 145oF and should be opaque and flake easily.

For more information on these and other topics, visit www.allencountyhealth.com or find us on Facebook.

###

Contact: John Silcox, (260) 449-7395, john.silcox@allencounty.us