Memorial Day (Monday, May 31, 2010) is typically spent with loved ones and friends having fun and relaxing at BBQ’s or other get-togethers. However, many people who are planning outings don’t always think about safety.
“If you’re hosting a barbecue with guests, before lighting briquettes or firing up a gas grill, be sure to have a water source close by,” says Jeff Pick, emergency nursing director at Scott & White Healthcare – Round Rock. “Place a hose or bucket of water that is easily reachable near the grill and inspect the bucket and hose to make sure they will be working properly if the need to use them arises. Make sure your grill is far away from any flammable objects like your outdoor walls, overhangs or patio railings.”
If you’re planning a picnic and foods are not handled properly, they can cause food borne illness. Prevention tips include:
- Wash hands before handling food and use clean utensils and containers. Dirty hands, utensils, containers and any work surfaces can contaminate food with harmful bacteria and viruses.
- Do not prepare foods more than one day before your picnic unless it is to be frozen. Cooking foods in advance allows for more opportunities for bacteria to grow.
- Mayonnaise-based foods need to be kept cold. Mayonnaise alone is too acidic for bacteria to grow in it. However, when mayonnaise is mixed with other foods, (particularly those that have been handled a lot and/or are protein foods), bacteria can grow if this mixture is kept too warm.
- Wash your hands. Pack moist towelettes if you think your picnic site might not have hand-washing facilities.
Heat Exhaustion, Dehydration
And, with temperatures rising, Scott & White’s Jeff Pick offers the following to avoid heat exhaustion or dehydration in these warmer temperatures and while enjoying Memorial Day weekend:
- Avoid tea, coffee, soda and alcohol as these can lead to dehydration.
- Wear lightweight, tightly woven, loose-fitting clothing in light colors.
- Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a hat, sunglasses and using an umbrella.
- When outdoors, take frequent drink breaks and mist yourself with a spray bottle to avoid becoming overheated.
Don’t forget the sunscreen!
If you’re headed to the beach, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends applying one ounce (a shot-glass) of sunscreen on exposed areas 15 to 30 minutes before going outside and re-applying that same amount every two hours; sooner if you sweat. And, don’t forget your lips; they also need an SPF of 15 or higher. Look for zinc oxide or titanium dioxide in sunscreen, as both protect against both UVA and UVB rays.
- Talk to your children about alcohol and the dangers of drinking and driving.
- Stop friends or family that have been drinking and are planning to drive.