Allegheny County Offers Safety Tips for Fourth of July Holiday
PITTSBURGH – The Allegheny County Department of Emergency Services and the Allegheny County Health Department are offering safety tips and information for residents on how to stay safe and avoid danger while enjoying the Fourth of July holiday.
“When you think of Independence Day, the idea of fireworks and barbecues aren’t far behind,” said Chief Alvin Henderson, Department of Emergency Services. “While the activities can be fun, there is also the potential for injury and so everyone should be aware of and take precautions to ensure that everyone is healthy and safe.”
Fireworks and celebrations go together, especially during the Fourth of July. But fireworks can be dangerous, causing serious burn and eye injuries.
If fireworks are legal where you live and you decide to set them off on your own, be sure to follow these important safety tips:
To learn about what the Fireworks Law is in Pennsylvania, or for additional helpful tips, visitwww.alleghenycounty.us/emerserv/firemar/fireworks.aspx.
“Barbecues can be a great time to enjoy being with friends and family, but you also should remember a few simple, yet important tips about food safety,” said Dr. Karen Hacker, Director of the Allegheny County Health Department. “With a little planning, the focus can be on the food and fun.”
This is the season for barbecues, but the key to preventing food poisoning is good personal hygiene, along with temperature control and adequate cooking of potentially hazardous foods. Washing your hands is not only important before preparing foods, but also between handling raw and ready-to-eat foods to prevent cross-contamination or the transfer of bacteria. Washing with soap and warm water is best, but if they won’t be available on your outing take moist towelettes with an antiseptic.
Meat, poultry and seafood should be cooked thoroughly and the best way to know if these foods have been cooked enough is to check their temperature with a meat thermometer. Safe cooking temperatures are 145 degrees for all whole cuts of meat, with a three-minute rest time before carving or consuming; 145 degrees for seafood; 160 degrees for all ground meats, including hamburgers; and 165 degrees for poultry. Hot dogs and other processed or precooked meats such as kielbasa should be reheated to 145 degrees.
If you don’t have a meat thermometer, follow these guidelines but remember they’re not as reliable as temperature as an indicator of doneness: beef and pork should be grilled until all the pink is gone, poultry until there is no red in the joints and fresh fish until it flakes with a fork.
Use different plates and utensils to carry raw meats and cooked meats to and from the grill so bacteria-laden juices left on the plate from raw meat don’t come in contact with and contaminate cooked meat. Once perishables such as meat, poultry, fish and any foods containing eggs or dairy products are cooked and served, any leftovers should be kept below 40 or above 140 degrees. If these foods can’t be kept hot or cold, they should be thrown out after two hours.
Make sure you have a well-insulated cooler with plenty of ice and take along a refrigerator thermometer to make sure the cooler keeps the temperature below 40 degrees. Store food in watertight containers. Keep the cooler out of the sun and use a separate one for beverages.
You can find additional food safety tips for picnics by visiting www.achd.net/food/pubs/pdf/picnictips.pdf.
Swimming Pool Safety
Americans swim hundreds of millions of times in pools, oceans, lakes, rivers, and hot tubs/spas each year. Most enjoy, but it’s important to be aware that drownings can occur, particularly in children if there is not proper adult supervision or there was no barrier, such as a fence, between themselves and the water.
Most drownings involving children and adults, as well as general pool-related injuries and infections, can be prevented by taking the following precautions while enjoying residential or public swimming pools:
Each year, there are an increased number of calls related to swimming pool chemicals which can become a hazard when wetted or improperly mixed. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, news media reports over the last five years show a significant number of fires, toxic vapor releases and personnel injuries in which pool chemicals were a factor.
Residents with pools are encouraged to follow these tips for save handling:
· Educate yourself about pool chemicals - read product label and directions before each use and follow manufacturer’s instructions
· Never unseat more than one container at a time and never mix different types of pool chemicals together; do not mix old and fresh chemicals, even if they are the same product
· Use only pool chemicals in original, labeled containers – never use a chemical from an unlabeled container
· Use appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and keep that equipment clean and available for use
· Use dry tools to handle pool chemicals; use a separate, designated tool for each pool chemical - never use a tool or piece of equipment for more than one chemical
· Wash hands after working with pool chemicals
· Keep children and animals away from pool chemicals
· Add pool chemicals to water, not the reverse
· Respond to pool chemical spills immediately
· Never smoke while handling pool chemicals
· Do not store or consume food or beverage near handling locations
· Never pour chemicals down the drain or sewer; contact your local hazardous waste disposal facility for more information
Heeding just some basic safety tips this summer could help to keep you and your companions in full-blown vacation mode. Dust off your grill, pull out the patio furniture, grab your swimsuits, and enjoy the lazy days of summer!