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Protect your home against mosquitoes After the Flood Summer? No Sweat.

Summer? No Sweat.

A Summer Survival Guide



Summertime’s warm weather prompts most people to get outside and enjoy more outdoor activities. Regardless of which activity you choose — swimming, boating, bicycling, gardening — it is important to avoid health and safety hazards. The tips in this booklet will help you avoid some of the more common hazards associated with the summer season, so you can have fun in the sun!

Summer? No Sweat was compiled by the Illinois Department of Public Health with the assistance of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office, the University of Illinois Extension, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.



Time at the Beach

You will have more fun at the beach if you know how to avoid potential health hazards.

  • All bathing beaches must display a current license issued by the Illinois Department of Public Health. Be sure one is posted.

  • Avoid any beach littered with trash or other debris. Garbage attracts bugs and can wash into the water. Look for water that is reasonably clear and free of floating materials and odors. Avoid swimming at beaches where there are large populations of ducks, geese or gulls. The waste produced by these birds causes high bacteria levels in the water.

  • Look for movement in the water; it helps keep the water clean. Do not swim in stagnant or still water.

  • Look for a sandy — not muddy — beach that has a grassy or wooded area around it. Such areas reduce surface runoff into the swimming water.

  • Do not swim at any beach right after a heavy rain. Runoff following a heavy rain may result in a high bacteria level.

  • When diving at a beach, exercise extreme caution. Beach water is not as clear as water in a pool, so underwater obstructions may not be visible. If there is any doubt, do not dive.

  • Avoid having beach water in your mouth or nose.

For more information visit the Illinois Department of Public Health bathing beach inspection program Web site.

Sunbathing is not as popular as it once was because of the growing awareness that spending too much time in the sun may increase the risk of skin cancer. If you do sunbathe — at a beach, in the backyard or at a swimming pool — take precautions to protect yourself from over-exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays.

  • Limit the time you spend in the sun.

  • Do not overdo it when the weather starts to turn warm. Begin with 15 minutes a day; then slowly increase the time you spend in the sun.

  • Use liberal amounts of sunscreen with a high sun-protection factor (SPF), even on cloudy days.

  • Wear dark glasses to protect your eyes.

Whether swimming at a beach or at a pool, do not enter the water alone unless a lifeguard is on duty. Sadly, most deaths from drowning occur within a few feet of safety. A drowning victim may not be able to call for help.

If you see someone in trouble, try to reach the person with something he or she can hold on to, such as a shepherd’s crook, jacket, belt, stick, rope, water ski, oar or fishing pole. A life preserver ring with a line attached enables you to pull the person to safety. If a life ring or a life jacket is not available, use objects that float, such as a plastic bottle, ball or picnic cooler. Be sure to throw the object within the drowning victim’s reach.

If the victim is too far away to assist from shore, use an air mattress, surfboard, small boat, raft or anything else you can row or paddle with your hands. Help the person climb onto the float or have him them on while you paddle back to shore. Approach a person who is in trouble in the water very cautiously. Do not let the victim pull you under.

A last option is to swim out and tow the victim back to shore, but try this only if you are a good swimmer and trained in lifesaving techniques. When swimming toward a victim, approach the person from behind. Even strong swimmers can drown trying to help others in the water.

To learn more about lifesaving procedures, contact your local American Red Cross chapter.

Swimming Pool Safety

If you swim in any of Illinois’ 3,500 public swimming pools, follow these health and safety tips.

  • Check for a current operating license from the Illinois Department of Public Health; this license must be displayed.

  • Determine if a lifeguard is present, especially if children are with you. If no lifeguard is on duty, do not let children swim unless they are accompanied by a responsible adult who knows lifesaving techniques and first aid. No one should swim alone, no matter how experienced a swimmer that person may be.

  • Look around the pool area to be certain lifesaving devices, such as a floating ring buoy and shepherd’s crook, are readily available for emergency use.

  • Be sure covers are installed on all drains of a swimming pool or in a wading pool. The suction created by the pool’s circulating pumps can be very dangerous unless it is reduced by darin covers.

  • To reduce the risk of eye, ear, nose or throat infection from contaminated water, swim only in pools in which water quality is properly maintained. Although it is impossible to tell if water is free of bacteria, the water should appear crystal clear, be continuously circulated and be maintained at a level that allows free overflow into the gutter or skimmer. There should not be a strong odor of ammonia or chlorine.

For more information visit the Department swimming pool safety Web site.


Bicycle Safety

Bicycling is a popular form of recreation and a practical means of transportation for more than 4 million people in Illinois. However as bicycling’s popularity has increased so, too, has the number of bicycle-related injuries and deaths. More than 4,000 bicyclists are injured each year in Illinois. The best protection against injury is to know how to ride your bicycle safely. When riding on a street or road, follow all traffic safety laws and rules that apply to people driving vehicles. The following rules are particularly important for bicyclists:

  • Because they reduce the chances of a serious head injury in case of a crash, bicycle helmets are essential. Always strap on an approved safety helmet before you ride.

  • Wear bright-colored clothing during the day and white or reflective clothing at night to increase your visibility to drivers.

  • Bicycling after dark is very hazardous. Avoid riding at night if possible but, if you do ride in the dark, the law says your bike must be equipped with a front light that is visible for at least 500 feet and a rear red reflector that can be seen for up to 600 feet.
  • Always ride with the traffic flow, as close to the right edge of the road as possible.

  • Obey all traffic signals, pavement markings and directions given by police officers.

  • Use hand signals to let drivers know your intentions.

  • Learn to look over your shoulder without losing your balance or swerving to the left.

  • Do not pass on the right. Motorists often will not look in that direction for passing cyclists.

  • When moving the same speed as traffic, ride in the middle of the lane, especially at busy intersections.

  • Keep both hands on the brakes. Allow extra stopping time in the rain.

  • Be alert for cars pulling out and make eye contact with the drivers to ensure you have been seen.

  • Do not weave between parked cars.

  • Always ride one to a bike. Your bike is harder to balance with another person on it and a passenger may block your view of what is in front or back of you.

In addition to state laws, many municipalities have ordinances restricting bicycles in certain areas. Contact local law enforcement agencies in the areas where you plan to ride. For more information on bicycle safety, write or call —

Illinois Department of Public Health
Division of Injury and Violence Prevention
535 W. Jefferson St. Springfield, IL 62761
217-782-1235 (fax)
TTY (hearing impaired use only) 800-547-0466

Bicycle Maintenance

Inspect your bicycle regularly to be sure it is safe to ride.

  • Wheels should be securely attached, properly adjusted and spin freely with all spokes in place.

  • All reflectors should be clean and intact.

  • Adjust the seat and handlebars to a comfortable position and be sure all nuts and bolts are tightened.

  • Make sure hand grips are secure.

  • Tires should not have cracks on the sidewalls, cuts in the tread or excessive wear. To prevent excessive wear, use the proper tire pressure (printed on the sidewall of the tire).

  • Check caliper brake pads for wear and proper adjustment.

  • Make sure gear and brake cables move freely. Replace rusted or frayed cables.

  • The chain should be free of rust. Do not put too much oil on the chain, however, since it will attract dust and dirt and shorten the life of the chain.

  • Pedals should be securely fastened and pedal reflectors clean and visible.

Checking your bicycle takes only a few minutes and may prevent an accident or mechanical breakdown. If you are uncertain about the condition of your bicycle, visit a local bike shop. Most shops offer free safety inspections and books on do-it-yourself maintenance.

Always lock your bicycle when it is parked. Register your bicycle with your local police department, if possible, and be sure to keep your bike's serial number in a safe place.


Bicycling long distances can be a healthy and adventuresome pastime. Many highways are not safe for bicyclists, so begin by selecting a route with a good road surface and an adequate shoulder. When choosing a route, avoid hills and look for places to eat and stay at night.

Equipment you will need includes a helmet, appropriate clothing for the weather, food, repair tools, spare parts, camping gear and other items for comfort and safety. Panniers — bags that attach to your bicycle — can be used to carry some of these items.

When bicycling with others, ride single file in groups of four to six. Groups should ride from ¼ to ½ mile apart. Always ride at least two bicycle lengths from other vehicles. The distance between bicycles and vehicles should be increased to 10 bicycle lengths when going downhill.


Commuting to work by bicycle is convenient for many people but, since it is usually done during peak traffic hours, bicycle commuters need to keep some important safety considerations in mind.

  • When selecting a route, consider traffic conditions, ease of the route and whether bike paths are available. Riding the same route every day will allow you to adjust to traffic conditions and will help motorists adjust to seeing you at about the same place every day.

  • Be sure to have the appropriate equipment, including a helmet, bright clothing, rain gear, spare parts and tools.

Boating Safety

Trailering a Boat

Before leaving home, be sure your boat is properly secured on the trailer. Inspect all the lines and tie-downs, as well as the winch. Tighten these as necessary and replace any that show signs of fraying or strand separation.

Make sure the trailer lights work, and test the braking system. Inspect the hitch and safety chain. Check the tire pressure and lug bolts. Tilt and secure the boat's motor to increase its clearance to the road.

Drive carefully, allowing for the extra length of the car and trailer when negotiating turns and passing other vehicles. Allow more time to stop, and pay special attention to speed limits.

Pull off the road periodically and walk completely around the trailer. Examine the tires and wheel bearings for overheating, test the tie-downs and check any equipment carried in the boat.

Operating a Boat Safely

Check the following before putting your boat in the water:

  • life jackets
  • backfire flame arrester
  • sound-producing device
  • visual distress signals
  • anchor with line
  • manual pump or bailer

  • fire extinguisher
  • adequate ventilation
  • navigation lights
  • fuel level
  • paddle or oar
  • vessel numbering

Be sure to check weather and water forecasts. And make sure you have sufficient fuel. (The "one-third rule" of fuel management is a good one to follow: one-third of the fuel to go out, one-third to get back and one-third for reserve.) Check your boat's capacity plate and do not take more passengers than it recommends. Finally, be sure to tell someone where you are going and when you will return.

Once you have your boat in the water, follow these safety rules:

  • Do not operate your boat carelessly or recklessly. This means operating your boat at a speed and in such manner that you do not endanger the life, safety or property of those in other watercraft.

  • If you are approaching another boat "head on" (or nearly so), each boat must bear to the right and pass the other on its left side.

  • When boats approach each other at right angles, the boat approaching on the right side has the right- of-way.

  • A boat may overtake another on either side but must grant the right-of-way to the overtaken boat.

  • A motorboat must yield the right-of-way to a boat propelled solely by sails or oars (An exception is when a large motorized craft is navigating in a confined channel; it then has the right-of-way over a sailboat or rowboat).

  • Do not operate a motorboat in any area marked by signs or buoys as a restricted area.

  • In areas designated as "No Wake" areas, do not exceed 5 miles per hour. Do not exceed this speed when within 150 feet of a public launching ramp, even if the area is not posted.

  • When towing a person on water skis, aquaplane or similar device, at least two competent persons must be in the boat. (It is unlawful to water ski from one-half hour after sunset to one-half hour prior to sunrise.)

  • Do not operate any watercraft within 150 feet of a diving flag unless directly associated with the diving activity.

  • Personal watercraft and specialty prop craft cannot be operated between sunset and sunrise.

Do not operate a watercraft while under the influence of alcohol or any other drug that impairs your ability to safely operate the craft. National Transportation Safety Board data indicate that the number of deaths due to recreational boating each year is second only to highway deaths. Approximately half of all boating accidents involve alcohol.

Alcohol impairs a person's ability to operate a boat. And the boat's motion can actually increase alcohol's effects on the following:

  • Judgment — Alcohol tends to make people think they perform better. However, the ability to make decisions quickly, particularly in high-risk situations, is one of the first skills impaired. And for decisions such as avoiding swimmers or objects in the water, the wrong choice can be fatal.

  • Vision — Eyes transmit visual images of surroundings to the brain. Alcohol causes tunnel vision, blurs sight and increases eye fixations, causing incorrect information to be sent to the brain. This can cause boating accidents.

  • Balance — An attack of dizziness or a misstep can lead to disaster. Most boating accidents occur when someone falls out of a boat or a boat capsizes.

  • Body Temperature — Alcohol gives a false sense of warmth. In reality, it causes the body to lose heat.

Life Jackets

What safety belts are to motor vehicles, personal flotation devices (PFDs), or life jackets, are to boats — simple devices that prevent serious injury or death. In Illinois, state law prohibits a person from operating a watercraft unless a life jacket approved by the U.S. Coast Guard is on board for each person.

In more than 80 percent of the nearly 900 boating deaths that occur in the United States each year, there are insufficient or inaccessible life jackets on board. Falling overboard is a frightening experience that causes many people to panic — some to the point of drowning. Wearing a life jacket can save your life.

Most new U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets are lightweight and comfortable. There are five basic types:

  • Type I and II PFDs will turn an unconscious person in the water from a face downward position to a vertical or slightly backward position.

  • Type III PFDs will keep a conscious person in a vertical or slightly backward position. While a Type III PFD will not turn an unconscious person to a face-up position, it will maintain a person in this position once the person assumes the position.

  • Type IV PFDs are not designed to be worn but to be thrown to a person in the water.

  • Type V PFDs are approved for restricted use.

Weather for Boaters

High winds, rough water and thunderstorms can quickly turn a pleasant day of boating into a struggle to stay afloat. The best course is to simply avoid boating in adverse weather. So, before going out, check the weather forecast. The National Weather Service issues marine forecasts, including weather, winds, seas and visibility, every six hours.

When weather warnings are in effect, determine whether you can navigate your boat safely. Have the proper equipment aboard to avoid becoming stranded — a sturdy anchor and appropriate length of line, paddle or oars in case of engine failure or torn sails, and visual distress signals.

Weather prediction is not an exact science. It is important to regularly check the horizon for changes in wind, waves, water and sky. Dark threatening clouds or any steady increase in wind or waves indicate the possibility of a thunderstorm.

You can determine how far away (in miles) an approaching thunderstorm is by counting the seconds between the lightning flash and the thunder and dividing by five. For example, if it takes 10 seconds to hear the thunder, the storm is about 2 miles away.

More information about boating may be obtained from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Questions about boating regulations or boating safety should be addressed to DNR's law enforcement division, 217-782-6431.

Water Sports

Water Skiing

Water skiing is one of America's favorite water sports. To be safe, remember these simple rules:

  • Always wear a life jacket.

  • Someone other than the driver should act as a spotter. The driver should watch the waterway, not the skier.

  • Always check the tow line before each person skis.

  • Maintain a reasonable, safe speed at all times and be alert for other boats and watercraft.

Personal Watercraft (Jet Skis)

The increasing popularity of personal watercraft — jet skis, water scooters, wet cycles, etc. — has resulted in a higher number of waterway accidents. These watercraft are not more dangerous than other types of watercraft, but careless operation and lack of common courtesy can cause many problems.

Under the law, a personal watercraft is considered a motorboat. That means it must be registered, and the operator must abide by all the "rules of the water" that fishing boats, ski boats, cruisers and other boats must follow. This includes carrying the same safety equipment (a fire extinguisher, for example). Illinois law requires that each person aboard a personal watercraft or specialty pro-craft wear an approved life jacket. Although simple to operate, personal watercraft are not toys.

Persons at least 10 years of age and less than 12 years of age may operate a personal watercraft (or motorboat) if they are accompanied and under the direct control of a parent or guardian or a person at least 18 years of age designated by a parent or guardian. Persons age 12 to 17 may operate a personal watercraft (or motorboat) if they are accompanied and under the direct control of a parent or guardian or a person at least 18 years of age designated by a parent or guardian, or the operator is in the possession of a Boating Safety Certificate issued by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Division of Law Enforcement.

Keep the following safety tips in mind when operating personal watercraft:

  • Take a boating safety course. Many dealers who sell personal watercraft participate in education programs. If your dealer does not, check with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources at 800-832-2599.

  • Read the owner's manual carefully so you understand the controls and features.

  • Wear proper safety equipment. Besides a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket, wear eye protection to keep water spray from obscuring your vision. Tennis or deck shoes offer the best control on your machine, and gloves and a wet suit offer protection from the elements. Attach a whistle to the zipper of your life jacket in case you need to summon help.

  • Never operate personal watercraft without the safety cord attached to you. The cord will automatically shut off the engine in the event you fall from the watercraft.

  • Look out for boats and, especially, other personal watercraft. Collisions are the most common type of personal watercraft accident.

  • Respect the rights of others. That includes not following other boats too closely or jumping another boat's wake, a dangerous practice. Stay away from anglers and canoeists.

  • Know the water in which you are operating so you can avoid weeds, rocks and sandbars.

  • Stay out of swimming areas and away from wildlife.

  • Never operate a personal watercraft at night.

  • Do not operate a personal watercraft after consuming alcohol or other drugs.