Fourth of July is here – have fun, but stay safe.

Fourth of July is a perfect time to gather with family and friends,” said Cook County Department of Public Health chief operating officer Terry Mason, MD, FACS. “When you are enjoying picnics, block parties and other Fourth of July celebrations, remember to prevent foodborne illness and personal injuries. Follow our basic safety tips to help make these holiday memories fun and healthy.”

Food Safety

  • Always wash hands thoroughly before preparing food and after handling raw meats. Scrub fruits and vegetables.
  • Avoid cross-contaminating foods by keeping each item separate. Wrap foods well.
  • Keep food chilled. Stock a cooler with plenty of ice and maintain a temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • To ensure bacteria are destroyed, cook hamburgers to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit; hot dogs to 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Keep hot food at 140 degrees Fahrenheit or above and cold food at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below. Refrigerate leftovers within two hours.

Fireworks Safety

  • The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a professionally-operated community firework display.
  • Warn children about the dangers of playing with fireworks – even sparklers which burn at 1,800 degrees F.

Water Safety

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning is the leading cause of injury death for children ages one to four, with three children dying every day as a result of drowning.

  • Always provide adult supervision while children are in or around water. Maintain gates and fences around residential pools.
  • Make sure kids wear life jackets and always keep floatation devices on hand.
  • Remember that lifeguards are on duty to respond to emergencies, not to supervise children.

West Nile Virus

  • REDUCE exposure when mosquitoes are most active, especially between dusk and dawn.
    • Fix or replace torn or missing screens on doors and windows.
    • Remove standing water in pet bowls, flower pots, tires, bird baths, baby pools and toys where mosquitoes can breed.
    • Make sure rain gutters drain properly.
  • REPEL mosquitoes when outdoors by applying insect repellent with DEET and follow label directions.
  • REPORT dead birds to CCDPH by calling (708) 633-8025.

For more information, visit our website: www.cookcountypublichealth.org, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.