Stay safe this Independence Day with tips from DHHS
Lincoln – Grilling hotdogs and hamburgers, lounging by the water, waving sparklers into the night. No matter how you celebrate Independence Day, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services wants you to be aware of these safety tips.
Fireworks are meant to be enjoyed, but they can also be dangerous. According to the Nebraska State Fire Marshal’s Office, 120 people had fireworks-related injuries June 25-July 5, 2018.
Enjoy fireworks safely by following these tips from the Consumer Product Safety Commission:
- Always have a responsible adult supervise fireworks activities.
- Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
- Light fireworks one at a time, then back up to a safe distance immediately.
- Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
- After fireworks complete their burning, soak them with plenty of water from a bucket or hose.
- Never shoot off fireworks in metal or glass containers.
- Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.
- Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
Firing up the grill is an easy and popular way to feed guests on Independence Day. Given that, many people mistakenly believe the color of the inside of their burger–whether it’s pink or brown–lets them know if it is safe to eat. It’s a bit more complicated than that.
Studies from the United States Department of Agriculture show that one out of every four hamburgers turns brown before it reaches the safe internal temperature of 160°F. For that reason, the USDA says using a food thermometer is the only way to make sure cooked meat is safe to eat.
Use a food thermometer and follow these safety tips from the USDA to grill safely:
- Wash your hands and surfaces with soap and warm water for 20 seconds before cooking and after handling raw meat. If cooking outside, pack and use clean cloths and moist towelettes.
- When taking food off of the grill, use clean utensils and platters. Don’t put cooked food on the same platter that held raw meat or poultry.
- Place a food thermometer in the thickest part to make sure foods are cooked to the right temperature. Remember that hamburgers should be cooked to 160°F. Find safe cooking temperatures for other foods on the USDA’s website – https://www.fsis.usda.gov/
- Place leftovers in shallow containers and refrigerate or freeze immediately. Bring a cooler to store leftovers if you are away from home.
- Don’t leave food out at room temperature for longer than two hours–or one hour if the outdoor temperature is above 90° F.
On Independence Day, Nebraskans usually beat the hot temperatures by jumping into a pool or lake. While water activities are a fun way to cool off, they have serious risks if proper precautions aren’t taken.
Follow these tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to stay safe in the water:
- Have a responsible adult supervise children swimming or playing in or around water.
- Always have children swim with a buddy. No matter how strong of a swimmer you are, never swim alone.
- When possible, select swimming sites that have lifeguards.
- Learn Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation. According to the CDC, in the time it takes for paramedics to arrive, your CPR skills could save someone’s life.
- Air-filled or foam toys are not safety devices. They are toys, not life jackets. They aren’t designed to keep swimmers safe.
- When boating or for young children in water, always use U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets.
Many Nebraskans spend Independence Day outside with friends and family. When you’re enjoying the summer weather, remember to protect yourself from the sun and bug bites.
Follow these safety tips to enjoy your time outdoors:
- Use sunscreen that is at least SPF 15 and has UVA and UVB protection. For the best sun protection, apply sunscreen liberally 30 minutes before you go outdoors and reapply it throughout the day, especially after swimming.
- Use bug spray. Repellents that contain DEET, picaridin, IR3535 and some lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products provide longer-lasting protection.
- Wear light colored, loose fitting clothing. Studies have shown that some mosquitoes are more attracted to dark clothing and most can readily bite through tight-fitting clothing.
- Do frequent tick checks after being outdoors.
- Drink lots of water and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. Avoid alcohol and limit drinks with caffeine.
- Avoid heatstroke-related injury and death by never leaving a child or pet alone in a car. Keep unoccupied cars locked so kids don’t get in on their own.