Special to Iredell Free News
RALEIGH — With summer just around the corner, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services encourages the use of safe swimming and grilling practices to minimize the risk of illness, injury and death. Everyone can play a role in preventing illnesses and injuries when they swim, play and relax in the water this summer and year-round. Nationally, drowning is the leading cause of death for children ages 1-4.
Please keep the following safety tips in mind while enjoying the state’s beaches, lakes, rivers and pools:
1. Put down your phones: Monitor children at all times around pools and any body of water. Unlike the flailing depicted on television, a drowning child is more likely to slip silently underwater, which can be barely noticeable until it is too late.
2. Keep pools secure: Close and lock or latch gates or doors every time they are not being used. Never prop a gate or door open and do not remove or lock ladders when aboveground pools are not in use.
3. Know the water conditions: Be aware of potential hazards such as strong currents, undertows or sudden changes in water depth.
4. Stay out of the water if you are sick with diarrhea.
“Drowning deaths are tragic and preventable,” said Dr. Susan Kansagra, director of the Division of Public Health. “Now is the time to take simple steps to prevent drownings and stay safe and healthy wherever you and your family or friends gather for water recreation activities.”
Outdoor grilling is a beloved summer tradition, and by following these guidelines, North Carolinians can have safer and more enjoyable gatherings with friends and family.
1. Practice hand hygiene: Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling raw food or using the grill.
2. Separate raw and cooked food: Keep raw meats, poultry and seafood separate from cooked foods and ready-to-eat items to prevent the spread of bacteria.
3. Cook food thoroughly: Use a food thermometer to ensure meats are cooked to the appropriate internal temperature, eliminating any harmful bacteria present.
4. Store leftovers properly: Refrigerate or freeze leftover food promptly to prevent bacterial growth. Consume or discard leftovers within three to four days.
5. Clean and sanitize: Thoroughly clean grill surfaces and utensils before and after each use to prevent cross-contamination and the growth of harmful bacteria.
“We want everyone in North Carolina to have a safe and healthy summer,” Dr. Kansagra said. “By following these guidelines for safe swimming and grilling, we can reduce the risk of accidents, illnesses and foodborne infections.”