As I sit here trying to write this week’s blog, I am finding myself distracted by the beautiful, warm sunlight shining through my window. When I look outside, I can’t help but think about the all the summer days ahead – days full of grilling, swimming, biking, and all sorts of fun in the sun. I also can’t help but think that, while summer is a great time to enjoy the weather and the great outdoors, it does not come without some health risks.

A few weeks ago, I posted a blog with tips for keeping children safe during their summer vacation; those same tips are likewise important for adults. Of course, as adults, “summer fun” requires we take into consideration a few additional safety measures. Consider these three, in particular:

Alcohol Consumption

  • Alcohol, like caffeine, is a diuretic. Overconsumption can lead to dehydration. Enjoy only in moderation and be sure to drink plenty of water (or electrolyte-laden sports drinks) to avoid heat-related illness.
  • Alcohol impacts judgment. Not only does impaired judgment present dangers when operating motor vehicles (boats included!), but it also makes it difficult to recognize the signs of heat-related illness. Again, moderation is the key! (http://www.nsc.org/nsc_events/Documents/Summer%20Heat%20%20and%20Alcohol%20(Fnl).pdf)

Food-borne Illnesses

  • Food-borne illness is more common in the summer months because (1) bacteria grow fastest and multiply rapidly in a hot, humid environment; and (2) picnics, barbeques, and camping trips lack the sanitized and safety-controlled environment of the traditional kitchen.
  • Cross-contamination is a main cause of food-borne illness. Do not allow cooked food to come into contact with raw meat juices, and be sure to thoroughly clean all utensils and/or containers that may have come into contact with raw meat. Wash your hands and clean surfaces often!
  • Be sure to cook all meats thoroughly to kill harmful bacteria. Use a meat thermometer to ensure proper internal temperature. Do not partially pre-cook meats (this only allows bacteria time to multiply).
  • Be sure to keep food properly chilled or refrigerated. Perishable food will perish faster in summer temperatures. Refrigerate leftovers promptly. (http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Factsheets/Foodborne_Illness_Peaks_in_Summer/index.asp)

Grilling Safety

Simply taking these few extra precautions can help us all enjoy our summers to the fullest! And, now that my blog is done, I think I may just give in to the temptation and begin enjoying my summer right now!  With caution, of course…