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Summer Safety Tips

There is a nothing like summertime in New England. Whether you're swimming, grilling, riding a bike or enjoying other outdoor activities in the beautiful sunshine, the Boston Public Health Commission wants to make sure you and your family stay safe and healthy. With the right tools and a little preparation, your entire family can look forward to a fun, relaxing and healthy summer. 

Beat the heat and stay safe in the sun:

It is natural to want to be outside during the summer. But when the temperatures rise so does the risk for heat-related illness and dangerous sun exposure. 

To beat the heat:
  • Try to stay in air-conditioning.
  • Limit the use of heat-generating appliances like stoves or ovens.
  • Drink plenty of water. Avoid caffeinated or alcoholic beverages.
  • Avoid strenuous activity. If you need to be outdoors for long periods of time, rest often and find shade.
  • Never leave children or pets in hot vehicles for any amount of time.
  • Check on friends and neighbors.
  • If you exercise outdoors, exercise in the early morning hours before 8:00am.
  • Take cool showers or baths to cool down.
To stay sun safe:
  • Use sunscreen (SPF-15 or higher) to reduce your exposure to the sun's harmful rays. Reapply sunscreen after sweating or getting wet.
  • Find shade.
  • Wear hats as well as loose fitting, lightly colored and lightweight clothes.
  • Protect your eyes with sunglasses that block at least 99% of UV light.
Water Safety:

There isn’t much better than jumping into a refreshing lake or the ocean on a hot summer day! Water activities are a fun way to cool off. But when most of us are enjoying time at the lake, pool or beach, we aren’t thinking about drownings or injuries. It can happen in seconds. Here are a few ways to keep your family safe on the water this summer.

  • Learn the basics of swimming. If you don’t already know how to swim, contact your local community center to get a proper lesson. And check out the BostonCenters for Youth and Families (BCYF) for a guide to the nearest pool and swim lessons offered. 
  • Always watch children near any body of water. Make sure to swim in the designated areas and know where the lifeguards are present.
  • Obey "No Diving" signs and do not dive into shallow water.
  • Make sure children wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket when boating, water skiing, rafting, fishing or swimming. Life jackets should be appropriate for your weight, size and the water activity.
  • Know before you go: Whether it's a lake, river or the ocean, check the weather conditions before you head out onto the water. And pay attention to any advisories that pop up while you're out. If you spot bad weather, get on dry land and head inside.
  • Watch out for strong currents, rip currents or dangerous waves. Currents are unpredictable near piers, jetties, small damns and docks. If it is hard to move around, head to shore.
Food and Grilling Safety:

Food poisoning peaks during summer months because foodborne germs thrive in warmer temperatures.

  • Clean: Before you handle, prepare or cook food, wash your hands with soap & warm water.  If you're somewhere without water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Chill: Keep meat, poultry, and seafood refrigerated until ready to grill.
  • Separate: To avoid cross contamination, keep raw meat, poultry & seafood away from other foods. Use separate cutting boards for raw meat, poultry, and seafood. And don't put cooked food on the same plate used for raw food.
  • Take the Temp: Use a food thermometer to ensure meat is cooked enough to kill harmful germs.
  • Put it away: Don't leave food out for more than an hour on a hot day.
  • Know the Rules. The City of Boston has several laws when it comes to grilling, including where you can and cannot place barbeque grills.
Window Fall Prevention:

A window fall can happen within seconds. Falls are the leading cause of injury to children age five and under but are completely preventable.

  • Lock all unopened windows and doors.
  • Open windows from the top, not the bottom.
  • Keep furniture or anything a child can climb on away from windows.
  • Be sure children are always supervised near open windows.
  • Install child safety window guards. Guards can be purchased at local hardware stores. Through our partnership with Boston Building Resources, BPHC makes window guards affordable for Boston residents. Click here to learn more about Boston Building Resources or call them at 617-442-2262.
Road Rules for Bicycling:

Summer is a perfect time to hit the road and take a bike ride around town. Before you start peddling, make sure you know the rules of the road!

  • Always wear a helmet: Helmets are the best way to prevent a head injury or even death. In Massachusetts, any person under 16 years of age or younger must wear a helmet. BPHC has a program that provides helmets for as low at $5 to Boston residents, health centers, and other local agencies. Click here for our Bicycle Helmet request form. 
  • Use appropriate hand signals.
  • Ride with traffic, not against it.
  • Respect traffic signals. Stop at all stop signs and red lights. Look back and yield to traffic coming from behind before turning left at intersections.
  • Avoid riding when it's dark and during rush hour, if possible.
  • Stay visible if you're riding at dusk or at night. Have reflective material on your bike or clothing and use lights on the bike.
A Pesky Problem: Mosquitoes and Ticks

Mosquito bites can spread West Nile Virus (WNV) and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE). Ticks can spread Lyme disease. Not all mosquitoes and ticks carry disease, but you should take steps to protect yourself.

  • Wear long sleeve shirts, long pants, and socks to prevent mosquito bites.
  • Limit your time outdoors between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Apply an approved mosquito repellent. Before using any repellent, be sure to read the product label to find out how long it offers protection, how often the product needs to be reapplied, and any precautions that need to be taken when applying the product. Wash off repellent with soap and water when you go inside.
  • If you are in a grassy, brushy, or wooded area, apply a DEET containing repellent that will protect against mosquitoes and ticks.
  • Always check yourself, your children, and your pets for ticks after returning indoors and remove attached ticks immediately using tweezers.

From all of us here at BPHC, we hope you have a fun and safe summer!

Summer Safety Public Health Commission
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