While for many of us summer is synonymous with vacation, relaxation and a time for a well deserved break from the rigors of the daily grind, the dog days of summer bring with them the need for an extra dose of vigilance as we head for the pool, fire up the barbeque or just spend our days enjoying the great outdoors.
If you are lucky enough to have your own pool, make sure to take proper precautions as, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, drowning is the number one cause of injury and death among children ages one to four. Children under age five represent nearly seventy five percent of child drowning fatalities, with eighty five percent of those fatalities taking place in residential pools – so while there is no question that pools equal fun, never forget that especially for small children, pools can be deadly. Be sure to install a fence at least four feet high with self-opening and closing latches as well as a lockable safety cover on the pool. Supervise kids very closely around water and be prepared for emergencies: know CPR, basic lifesaving skills and always take a phone to the pool area in case of an emergency. Be sure to keep children away from pool drains and check with your pool service provider to make sure that drains are compliant with all regulations. Finally, if you notice that you can’t find one of your kids, be sure to check the pool first, because once a child is in the water, a delay of even a few seconds can literally mean the difference between life and death.
If it is the smell of a freshly grilled steak that really screams summer to you, then by all means, enjoy the protein-fest, but do it safely. Never grill indoors, which can create carbon monoxide, and before barbequing, check air-tubes and hoses for holes or blockages. Situate your grill on a level surface, away from buildings, dry leaves and other combustibles. Use long handed utensils to avoid burns and splatters and skip the loose fitting clothes when you are manning the grill. Keep a fire extinguisher, water or a bucket of sand nearby for emergencies and use baking soda if needed to control a grease fire. With recent news stories of several cases of metal bristles breaking off grill brushes and becoming embedded in food creating major health hazards to those who unwittingly ingested them, toss your metal grill brush and clean your grill either with a grill stone or even a piece of crumpled up aluminum foil.
Keep germs at bay by marinating food in the refrigerator and then discarding the marinades once they have been used for raw meat, fish or poultry. Cook food thoroughly and never use the same utensils or platters for raw and cooked foods. Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold: consider keeping cold food chilled by serving on platters placed on a bed of ice and keep hot food at or above 140 degrees. Discard food that has been kept outside for more than two hours and if the temperature is over ninety degrees, toss any food that has been out longer than one hour.
Thinking about a road trip? Be sure to tune up your car, get an oil change and check your wipers, headlights, turn signal, fluid levels as well as tire pressure. (Don’t forget to check the pressure on your spare tire as well!) Make sure your car is stocked with a first aid kit, vehicle owner’s manual, flashlight, tire pressure gauge, an extra set of keys, water and emergency tire inflator and sealant. Plan your route in advance and don’t even consider leaving your house without maps or a GPS. If you don’t have a GPS, try borrowing one from a friend or check your local newspaper to find out if there is a GPS gamach in your area. Especially during peak weekends, try to travel late at night or in the early morning and no matter when you travel, check the traffic websites, such as trafficland.com, to see road conditions. If you have a smartphone, there are great apps that will give you both a GPS and traffic conditions, so do your homework and find one that works for you.