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Prevention Tips for The Summer




Also of interest
West Nile Virus: What You can Do
Ticks and Tick-Borne Diseases (California Department Of Health Services)
Protecting Against Lyme Disease (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)


Water Safety and Children

Water activities are a lot of fun but it should be safety first when children are in or near any body of water. Drowning is a leading cause of death, disability and injury for children under five years of age in California. The Drowning Prevention Foundation offers the following tips to keep children safe around water:

  • Never leave a child alone near water, not even for a few seconds. A child can drown in the time it takes to answer the phone.
  • Keep a constant eye on young children playing in or near any body of water - bathtub, wading pool, residential or public pool, pond or lake. At large gatherings, designate an adult to watch children at play.
  • All non-swimmers should wear approved personal flotation devices when they are near water. All children and adults who ride in small watercraft must wear a life vest.
  • Swimming lessons, while important, do not insure safety. About 25% of all young drowning victims have had swimming lessons. Many children who fall unexpectedly into water will panic and forget their swimming skills.
  • Do not let children and even teenagers swim in Delta canals and waterways, which have unpredictable undercurrents that make them very dangerous.

For more information, call the Drowning Prevention Foundation at 925-820-SAVE.

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Summer and Skin Cancer

Each year, more than half a million Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer. Although skin cancer is largely curable, it can be disfiguring. And there is a particularly deadly type, melanoma, which can kill.

A major cause of skin cancer is exposure to the ultraviolet rays of the sun. Experiencing even one blistering sunburn as youngsters can increase our risk of skin cancer as adults. With this in mind, use these tips to help you enjoy the sun more safely:

  • Avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., when it is the strongest.
  • When outdoors, wear a hat with a wide brim and tightly woven clothing that covers most of your skin.
  • Use a sunblock with a protection factor of at least 15. Apply at least an hour before going into the sun and again after swimming or sweating. But don't let these products give you a false sense of security - you should still limit your sun exposure.
  • Avoid tanning parlors. Although their proprietors claim that getting a tan this way is "protective," the American Medical Association does not agree.

Remember, too much sun exposure not only increases your risk of skin cancer, but is a direct cause of aging and wrinkling as well - reason enough not to bake in the sun.

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Lead-Safe Home Remodeling

Warmer weather signals the start of the home improvement season. But did you know that more than half of Contra Costa homes are old enough to have hazardous lead paint? Get that paint tested for lead before you begin sanding and scraping. If lead is present, it's safest to have the work done by a licensed contractor who is certified to do lead work. If you must do the work yourself, find out how to protect yourself and your family from lead.

Some tips for making remodeling jobs safer:

  • Keep young children and pregnant women away from the work area.
  • Avoid dry paint removal methods, such as sanding, grinding and dry scraping.
  • Keep lead paint debris and dust from spreading by sealing off the work area and using disposable drop cloths.
  • Clean up thoroughly, using wet cleaning methods such as mopping.

For more information about lead testing and safer methods for working around lead paint, call the county lead program at 510-231-8502 or toll-free at 1-866-FIX-LEAD

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Preventing Foodborne Illness

Foodborne illness, also known as food poisoning, is more prevalent in warmer weather. There's a higher risk of foodborne illness in the summertime because foodborne bacteria grow fastest at temperatures from 90 to 110 degrees F. Also, more people cook outside at picnics, barbecues and camping trips, away from refrigeration and washing facilities that a kitchen provides.

To keep food safe during summer, the Food Safety and Inspection Service of the United States Department of Agriculture recommends we "Clean," "Separate," "Cook" and "Chill":

Clean: Wash Hands and Surfaces Often. Unwashed hands and cooking and eating surfaces are a prime cause of foodborne illness.

  • Wash your hands with hot, soapy water before handling food and after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and handling pets.
  • When eating away from home, find out if there's a source of clean water. If not, bring water for preparation and cleaning. Or pack clean, wet, disposable washcloths, moist towelettes or antibacterial hand gel and paper towels for cleaning hands and surfaces.

Separate: Don't Cross-Contaminate. Cross-contamination during preparation, grilling and serving food can lead to foodborne illness.

  • When packing the cooler chest for an outing, wrap raw meats securely; avoid raw meat juices from coming in contact with ready-to-eat food.
  • Wash plates, utensils, and cutting boards that held the raw meat or poultry before using again for cooked food.
  • Do not use marinade that's been used for raw meats to baste food once you've started to cook. Instead, set aside some of the marinade before you add the raw meat, poultry or fish.
  • Do not use the loose ice used to pack your cooler as ice for your drinks. Pack beverage ice in separate, resealable bags.

Cook: Cook to Proper Temperatures. Food is properly cooked when it's heated for a long enough time and at a high enough temperature to kill bacteria that cause foodborne illness.

  • Take your thermometer along. Meat and poultry cooked on a grill often browns very fast on the outside, so be sure that meats are cooked thoroughly. Check them with a food thermometer.
  • Cook steaks and roasts that have been tenderized, boned, rolled, etc., to an internal temperature of 160°F for medium and 170°F for well-done. Whole steaks and roasts may be cooked to 145°F for medium rare.
  • Whole poultry should be cooked to 180°F in the thigh; breast meat to 170°F.
  • Cook hamburger and other ground meats (veal, lamb, and pork) to an internal temperature of 160°F, and ground poultry to 165°F.
  • Properly cooked fish should flake easily with a fork.
  • Cook meat and poultry completely at the picnic site. Partial cooking of food ahead of time allows bacteria to survive and multiply to the point that subsequent cooking cannot destroy them.

Chill: Refrigerate Promptly. Holding food at an unsafe temperature is a prime cause of foodborne illness. Keep cold food cold.

  • Marinate raw meat, poultry and fish in a covered dish in the refrigerator. Do not let marinating foods sit on the counter. Transport in a cooler separate from ready-to-eat foods.
  • Cold refrigerated perishable food like luncheon meats, cooked meats, chicken, and potato or pasta salads should be kept in an insulated cooler packed with several inches of ice, ice packs, or containers of frozen water.
  • Consider packing canned beverages in one cooler and perishable food in another cooler because the beverage cooler will probably be opened frequently. Keep coolers in the coolest part of the car, and place in the shade or shelter, out of the sun, whenever possible.
  • If the ice starts to melt, put more into the cooler.

For more information

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Keeping Safe on the Road

When you're on the road with your children this summer, make sure you're all strapped in and restrained properly. Motor vehicle crashes continue to be a major cause of death and injury to children and adults. On long trips and short, remember to buckle up!

The Injury Prevention Program offers these tips to keep children safe when riding motor vehicles:

  • Infants should travel rear facing until one year old AND 20 pounds.
  • Children over 40 pounds should ride in booster seats until they reach six years old or 60 pounds. (For safety reasons children should stay in a booster seat until they sit properly in the vehicle with the lap and shoulder portion of the seatbelt directly over the shoulder and hipbones.)
  • The best child restraint is the one that correctly fits the child, the vehicle and is used correctly every time.
  • Properly installed child restraints should have no more than one inch of movement in any direction.
  • Always read both the vehicle owner's manual and the instructions that come with the child restraint.
  • Child restraints are tested for one crash test only. Regardless of severity, the child restraint must be replaced after one car crash.
  • Child restraints have a life span of no more than five years. Remember to check for any recalls to your car restraint.
  • The middle seat in the back of a vehicle is the safest position for a child.
  • Infants and children under 12 should never ride in the front seat of a vehicle especially if an air bag is active.

For more information, call the Injury Prevention program at 925-313-6110.

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KIDS'N CARS

During hot weather, parked vehicles can be as much of a hazard as vehicles that are in motion. Children are at risk when they are left inside a parked vehicle, even for a moment, or when they play in, around or behind a parked vehicle, which can happen more often during the summer when children are at home and not in school.

KIDS'N CARS recommendations to keep children safe include:

  • Never leave children alone in or around cars; not even for a minute.
  • Walk around and behind a vehicle prior to moving it and know that another adult is properly supervising children before moving your vehicle.
  • Be aware that steep inclines and large SUVs, vans and trucks add to the difficulty of seeing behind a vehicle.
  • Consider installing cross view mirrors, and/or a back up detection device.
  • Teach your children to never play in, around or behind a vehicle.
  • Keep toys and other sports equipment off the driveway.
  • Keep vehicles locked at all times; even in the garage or driveway.
  • Keys should never be left within reach of children.
  • Always make sure all child passengers have left the car after it is parked.
  • When a child is missing, check vehicles and car trunks right away.

KIDS'N CARS, based in Kansas, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the prevention of injuries and death resulting from children being left unattended in or around motor vehicles. Their latest campaign addresses the issue of children being strangled by power windows of motor vehicles. For additional information, visit their website at www.kidsandcars.org.

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