OUTDOOR TIPS FOR A HEALTHY, SAFE LABOR DAY
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public
health director, today reminded Illinoisans to take precautions this Labor Day
weekend to protect themselves while outdoors as they participate in activities
that mark the traditional end of the summer season.
"Some common sense measures and reminders will allow
everyone to enjoy this holiday weekend free of disease and injury," Dr.
West Nile virus West Nile virus infections peak
in September, so now is an important time to avoid mosquito bites. Consider
refraining from outdoor activities when mosquitoes are most active - dusk to
dawn - or, when outside, take care to use insect repellent containing DEET
(N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide) and follow the directions on the package, and wear
protective clothing, such as long sleeve shirts, pants, socks and shoes.
Eliminate potential mosquito breeding sites by emptying standing water from
places like buckets, cans, tires and flowerpots.
Food safety For those planning a picnic or
cooking out, remember to keep hot food hot and cold food cold, and wash hands
frequently with soap and warm water before handling food. Use alcohol-based
preparations if soap and water not readily available. In addition:
- Refrigerate or keep cool cooked foods that are not served promptly.
- Cook meat and poultry thoroughly. For hamburgers, be sure to cook until the
center of the meat reaches 155 degrees Fahrenheit or until the juices run
- Throw away food items, like potato salad, if it has been sitting out for
more than two hours.
- Separate raw meat and poultry from other foods.
- Serve leftovers very cold (directly from the refrigerator) or very hot
(heated to 165 degrees F or higher).
If you develop symptoms, such as vomiting or diarrhea, you
could have a food-borne illness. Symptoms can appear anywhere from 30 minutes
to two weeks after eating contaminated food. Most often, however, people get
sick within four to 48 hours.
Sun exposure Protect your skin from over-exposure
to the sun by choosing five sun protection options - seeking shade, covering
up, getting a hat, wearing sunglasses to protect yours eyes and rubbing on
sunscreen. Use liberal amounts of suntan lotion with a high sun-protection
factor (SPF), even on cloudy days.
Bathing beaches - You will have more fun at the beach if
you know how to avoid potential health hazards.
- Avoid beaches 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 or geese. 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 count.
- 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.
Swimming pools - 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.
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
Swimming - both bathing beaches and pools - Follow
healthy swimming behaviors to protect you and your kids from recreational water
illnesses. To stop germs from causing illness:
- Don't swim when you have diarrhea. This is especially important for kids in
diapers. Germs can be spread in the water and make others sick.
- Don't swallow the water and, if possible, avoid getting water in your
- Practice good hygiene. Take a shower before swimming and wash your hands
after using the toilet or changing diapers. Germs on your body end up in the
- Take kids on bathroom breaks or check diapers often.
- Change diapers in a bathroom and not at poolside.
- Wash your child thoroughly with soap and water before swimming.
Bicycle safety -- 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
- Obey all traffic signals, pavement markings and directions given by police
Boating - 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.
Follow these safety rules:
- When 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
- 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.