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Summer safety feature


Summer’s dangers are often overlooked as people try to relax. The Ohio Department of Health offers some quick tips to help keep you and your loved ones safe this season, whether at home or on the beach.



Water Safety

Children and youth are at an increased risk for drowning during these summer months. Parents should closely monitor their children’s play during water activities.

Here are some other important water safety tips:

Fence it off. Install a four–sided isolation fence, with self–closing and self–latching gates, around backyard swimming pools. This can help keep children away from the area when a parent cannot supervise them. Pool fences should completely separate the house and play area from the pool. If children can gain access to pools through the house or poorly-latched gates, they are at risk of drowning. Door alarms, pool alarms and automatic pool covers can add an extra layer of protection when used properly, but should not replace a fence and good supervision.

Never swim alone. Always have a buddy with you when you swim. It is also good to have a watch buddy as well in the event someone needs to contact emergency personnel.

Be on the lookout. Supervise young children at all times around bathtubs, swimming pools, ponds, lakes, and other bodies of water. Partner with other parents to take turns watching children at swimming pools. While parents often believe they will hear splashing or shouting, drowning is often silent and occurs quickly.

Begin teaching children to swim early. Experts suggest starting swimming lessons after age 4. Also, please note that water safety programs for infants and young children are not a substitute for good supervision.

Make life jackets a "must." Make sure all kids wear life jackets (also known as personal flotation devices or PFDs) in and around natural bodies of water, such as lakes, rivers and ponds, even if they know how to swim.

The PFD must be:

U.S. Coast Guard approved Type I, II, III, or V;

In good and serviceable condition;

Of appropriate size;

Securely attached.

Ohio law requires children under the age of 10 to wear a PFD at all times on boats under 18 feet long, however older children will be safest when they wear PFDs too. Learn CPR. Learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and get recertified every two years. Immediate CPR can help a child stay alive and reduce the chance of brain damage.

Install drain covers and safety releases. To avoid drain entanglement and entrapment in pools and spas, install anti-entrapment drain covers and safety vacuum release systems.

Sun protection

Skin cancer is the most-commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States; it accounts for about half of all cancers in the United States. Here are some helpful tips to protect yourself from the sun:

  • Wear protective clothing such as long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat that shades your face, neck and ears.
  • Seek shade whenever possible.
  • Wear sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher as well as UVA and UVB protection.
  • Re-apply sunscreen regularly, especially after swimming, perspiring heavily or drying skin with a towel.
  • Wear sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Avoid direct sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun’s rays are strongest.   

Heat Safety

Never leave your child alone in the car – not even for a minute!        

In 2010, more than 49 children died while alone in a vehicle. Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle, even with the window slightly open. It only takes a few short minutes before a child can become dangerously overheated. Believe it or not, routines and distractions have caused people to mistakenly leave children behind in cars.

  • Place a cell phone, purse, briefcase, gym bag or whatever is to be carried from the car, on the floor in front of a child in a backseat. This triggers adults to see children when they open the rear door and reach for their belongings.
  • Set your cell phone or Blackberry reminder to be sure you dropped your child off at day care.
  • Set your computer calendar program, such as Outlook, to ask, “Did you drop off at daycare today?”
  • Have a plan that if your child is late for daycare that you will be called within a few minutes. Be especially careful if you change your routine for dropping off little kids at day care.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion are:

  • Heavy sweating.                      
  • Paleness.
  • Muscle cramps.
  • Tiredness.
  • Weakness.
  • Dizziness.
  • Headache.
  • Nausea or fainting.

Those at highest risk for heat stroke or heat exhaustion are:

  • Infants and children up to 4 years of age.
  • People 65 years of age and older.
  • People who are overweight.
  • People who overexert during work or exercise.
  • People who are ill or on certain medications.

Heat-related stress prevention:

  • Drink plenty of fluids and avoid alcohol and caffeine; they can add to dehydration and increase the effects of heat illness.
  • Avoid outdoor activities during the hottest parts of the day.   

Food Safety

Tips to help prevent the spread of E. coli O157 include:

The E. coli O157 bacterium is blamed for roughly 73,000 infections and 61 deaths in the United States each year, according to the Centers for Disease control and Prevention (CDC). Most illnesses from E. coli O157:H7 are associated with eating undercooked, contaminated ground beef, making it important to cook hamburgers to an internal temperature

of at least 160 °F. Use a meat thermometer to be sure, as contaminated meat looks and smells normal and can turn brown before disease-causing bacteria are killed.

  • Wash hands thoroughly* before eating, preparing food, after using the bathroom, changing diapers or after contact with animals.
  • Cook all ground beef thoroughly, until juices are no longer pink. Use a meat thermometer to ensure it is cooked to 160 °F.
  • Wash meat thermometers between uses.
  • Wash counters and utensils with hot, soapy water after coming in contact with raw meat.
  • When cooking outdoors, use separate plates for raw meat and cooked meat.
  • Keep raw meats and their juices away from other foods.
  • When ordering hamburger at a restaurant, cut the patty at its thickest part to make certain the center is not still pink. If it is pink, return it for further cooking and ask for a new bun and plate.
  • Wash all fruits and vegetables well, especially those that will be served raw.
  • Drink only pasteurized milk, juice or cider.
  • Drink water only from regulated supplies.
  • Avoid swallowing lake or pool water while swimming.
  • Keep hot foods hot and keep cold foods cold.
  • People and children suffering from diarrhea should avoid swimming in public pools or lakes, sharing baths and preparing food.

* Thorough hand washing is defined as using warm water and washing with soap for at least 30 seconds. In public restrooms, use your arm or a paper towel to turn off the faucet and, if available, use the automatic door opener to exit the bathroom.

Grilling Safety

It’s safe to picnic and grill in the summer, but it’s especially important to be vigilant about food preparation.

  • Keep meat and poultry refrigerated until ready to use. Take out only the meat and poultry that will immediately be placed on the grill.
  • When using a cooler, keep it out of the direct sun and place it in the shade or shelter. Avoid opening the lid too often, which lets cold air out and warm air in. Pack beverages in one cooler and perishables in a separate cooler.
  • Cook food to a safe internal temperature to destroy harmful bacteria. Meat and poultry cooked on a grill often browns very fast on the outside. Use a food thermometer to be sure the food has reached a safe internal temperature. Whole poultry should reach 180 °F; breasts, 170 °F. Hamburgers made of ground beef should reach 160 °F; ground poultry, 165 °F. Beef, veal and lamb steaks, roasts and chops can be cooked to 145 °F. All cuts of pork should reach 160 °F.
  • NEVER partially grill meat or poultry and finish cooking later.
  • After cooking meat and poultry on the grill, keep it hot until served - at 140 °F or warmer.
  • Keep cooked meats hot by setting them to the side of the grill rack, not directly over the coals where they could overcook. At home, the cooked meat can be kept hot in a warm oven (approximately 200 °F), in a chafing dish or slow cooker or on a warming tray.
  • When taking food off the grill, use a clean platter. Don't put cooked food on the same platter that held raw meat or poultry. Any harmful bacteria present in the raw meat juices could contaminate safely cooked food.
  • In hot weather (above 90 °F), food should never sit out for more than one hour.
  • Refrigerate any leftovers promptly in shallow containers. Discard any food left out more than two hours (one hour if temperatures are above 90 °F).  

Bathing Beach Safety    

Beach water can become polluted from many sources including, but not limited to, sanitary sewer, storm sewer, and combined sewer overflows; urban, rural, and agricultural runoff; malfunctioning septic tanks and aeration systems; industrial wastes, boating wastes, human and animal wastes.

During the summer months, selected public beaches along Lake Erie are sampled for E. coli bacteria. The presence of this bacteria in beach water is a good indicator of pollution that could be potentially harmful to swimmers. When the amount of bacteria in the water exceeds state standards, beaches are posted with signs that advise against swimming.

Learn if the beaches in your area are safe for swimming.


Last updated 5/29/15