The Delaware Division of Public Health provided the following tips to keep families and pets safe during the Fourth of July holiday.
As temperatures rise, so do the chances of contracting a foodborne illness if food is not properly handled and sanitized. Be mindful of keeping food out in the hot sun too long and follow the proper procedures for cooking meats and poultry. When bringing food to a picnic or cookout:
— Use an insulated cooler filled with ice or frozen gel packs. Frozen food can also be used as a cold source.
— Foods that need to be kept cold include raw meat, poultry and seafood; deli and luncheon meats or sandwiches; summer salads like tuna, chicken, egg, pasta, potato or seafood; cut-up vegetables and fruits, especially melons; and perishable dairy products.
— A full cooler will maintain its cold temperature longer than a partially filled one. When using a cooler, keep it out of the direct sun by placing it in the shade or shelter. Avoid opening the cooler repeatedly so food stays colder longer when hosting an outdoor event.
— Before cooking, keep meats and eggs in a container under 40 degrees fahrenheit, keeping ice for beverages in a separate container.
— Refrigerate cold foods until they're ready to be served, keeping them on ice once they are out in the open.
— Have a food thermometer on hand to ensure meats are cooked to their required temperature.
— Burgers and sausage should be cooked to 160 degrees fahrenheit; chicken and turkey should be cooked to 165 degrees fahrenheit; and steaks should be cooked to 145 degrees fahrenheit with a three-minute rest time.
— Food should not be left out longer than two hours, or one hour if the temperature is above 90 degrees fahrenheit.
For more food safety tips, visit dhss.delaware.gov/dph/hsp/foodsafety.html or foodsafety.gov.
Sunburn slows the skin's ability to cool itself, and is linked to skin cancer. Protect skin by taking the following steps:
— Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF of 30 or higher, and reapply regularly every two hours or after swimming.
— Wear UV-blocking sunglasses to protect eyes. Wear wide-brimmed hats to cover head, face, neck, and ears. Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants for optimal protection against the sun’s rays.
— Limit sun exposure when UV rays are most dangerous, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
For more sun safety tips, visit protectyourskinde.com.
Mosquitoes and ticks are active in the summer, and both can transmit serious illnesses through their bites. While spending time outdoors, prevent mosquito and tick bites:
— Use Environmental Protection Agency-registered insect repellents. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for reapplication times. When using sunscreen, apply it first and insect repellent second. Adults should spray insect repellent onto hands then apply to the child's face. Do not apply insect repellent onto a child's hands, eyes, mouth or on cut or irritated skin. Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months.
— Wear light-colored, long-sleeved shirts and pants. Mosquito netting can protect one's face and neck, and infants in carriages, strollers and playpens.
— Prevent mosquitoes from entering the house by using screens and keeping windows and doorways tightly sealed.
The DPH Office of Animal Welfare advises pet owners to be aware that fireworks cause many pets to run away, and that holiday foods and heat can be harmful to pets. The following tips from the American Veterinary Medical Association can help keep pets safe from harm during Independence Day celebrations:
— If a pet is sensitive to noises like fireworks or thunder, consult a veterinarian for recommendations on how to ease anxiety caused by fireworks and loud parties. Anxiety medications and treats, “thunder” shirts and behavioral training are tools to help keep pets calm.
— Leave pets at home if attending gatherings elsewhere. In addition to fireworks, strange places and crowds can spook an animal and cause them to flee. Utilize a crate or escape-proof area of the home during parties and fireworks.
— Those who expect guests during the holiday, or any celebration, should inform company to be mindful of pets when entering or exiting a home or yard to avoid accidental escapes. Place signs on doors and gates that alert guests to be vigilant about pets.
— Tell guests to refrain from sharing food meant for people as these can upset pets' stomach or worse. After any in-home celebrations, check yards for food scraps and fireworks debris that animals may ingest.
— Make sure sparklers, glow sticks, fireworks, charcoal and skewers are out of pets’ reach.
— Stay vigilant about times when pets are outdoors. Pets are safest inside on hot and humid days. If they must be outside, ensure they have access to fresh water and secondary shade apart from dog and cat enclosures, which can become dangerously hot inside.
— Make sure pets have identification tags with current owner contact information. Have pets microchipped, if they aren’t already. A microchip is an affordable device with owner information to ensure pets can return home if they get out and are found by someone else. Make sure the microchip is registered with up-to-date owner contact information.
— If a pet does escape, post its photo and identifying information on the Office of Animal Welfare's statewide Lost & Found Pet Registry, at animalservices.delaware.gov. Review found pet notices there as well. A pet may have been found by a neighbor or taken to a local animal shelter.