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Summer Safety (page 2)

— California Childcare Health Program
Updated on Feb 25, 2011

Make outdoor play areas safe

Carefully maintain all equipment, and make sure that swings are made of soft materials such as rubber, plastic or canvas. Make sure children cannot reach moving parts that might pinch or trap a body part. If your play area has a metal slide or other metal play surfaces, let children play on them only when they are cool—hot metal play equipment can burn little arms and legs. If possible, consider moving such equipment to a shady spot in your play area. Keep play areas free from debris and animal waste. Children should not touch sick or dead animals.

Use bicycles, skateboards and scooters safely

Make sure children are ready and able to ride a wheeled toy before you let them use it, and that it is the right size for them. A child should be able to place the balls of both feet on the ground when sitting on the seat of a wheeled toy. Children should always wear helmets and protective gear when riding bicycles, skateboards and scooters. Children should never ride in or near traffic, at dusk or after dark.

Handle foods safely during warm weather

Warm summer weather also brings an increase in foodborne illness. This is partly due to a natural increase in environmental bacteria, which flourish in warm and humid conditions. Additionally, the food we bring on summer outings is often not packed or stored properly to discourage the growth of pathogens.

Symptoms of food poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite. While these symptoms may be only a mild inconvenience to a healthy person, foodborne infections can cause severe dehydration in infants, young children, or any persons whose immunity is weakened by chronic disease.

Parents and child care providers need to observe food safety rules especially carefully in summer:

  • Perishable items from the refrigerator should be kept in the refrigerator until it is time to eat. For trips or picnics, keep these foods in an insulated cooler, with several inches of ice or ice packs. Common sources of food poisoning in summer include potato salad, cold cuts, pasta salads, and other egg or dairy-based cold dishes. Proper storage can prevent this from happening.
  • Keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot. Never mix them when serving or storing.
  • Keep raw meat away from cooked food or food that is ready to serve. Also keep the utensils, plates, cutting board, etc., used to prepare raw meat away from prepared food.
  • Cook all meat to at least the recommended minimum internal temperature. The recommended temperature varies for different types of meats, and should be prominently featured on the meat’s label or packaging material. When you shop, be sure the meat you buy has this information provided on the packaging.
  • Cold food should be left out no longer than two hours at room temperature (one hour if the temperature is 90° or higher). After that, discard it.
  • Wash hands frequently during food preparation. For picnics, bring along disposable towelettes for hand washing.

For more information, see CCHP’s related Health and Safety Notes West Nile Virus: What You Should Know, The Use of Insect Repellent by Child Care Programs, and Sun Smart Policy. Visit www.ucsfchildcarehealth.org or call the Healthline at (800) 333-3212 for copies.

References

West Nile Virus, Centers for Disease Control, 2006. www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/RepellentUpdates.htm

California Early Childhood Sun Protection Curriculum (rev. 1999). Skin Cancer Protecton Program. Cancer Prevention and Nutrition Section, California Department of Health Services. www.dhs.ca.gov/ps/cdic/cpns/skin/images/skin_sunproteccurriculum.pdf

United States Food and Drug Administration, Partnership for Food Safety Education; Fight Bac This Summer at www.fightbac.org.

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