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July is a month filled with sunshine, outdoor fun, and delicious barbecues. It’s a time when friends and families gather to enjoy the warm weather and share meals cooked on the grill. However, it’s also a month to be mindful of certain health risks associated with outdoor activities. At the Lincoln Trail District Health Department, we want to ensure that everyone enjoys a safe and healthy summer.

National Grilling Month: Savor the Flavor Safely

Grilling is a beloved summer tradition, but it’s essential to follow food safety guidelines to prevent foodborne illnesses. Here are some tips to ensure your grilling is both delicious and safe:

  1. Keep It Clean: Always start with clean hands, utensils, and surfaces. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before and after handling raw meat.
  2. Separate Raw and Cooked Foods: Use separate plates and utensils for raw and cooked meats to avoid cross-contamination.
  3. Cook to Safe Temperatures: Use a food thermometer to ensure meats are cooked to safe internal temperatures. For example, ground beef should be cooked to at least 160°F, while poultry should reach 165°F.
  4. Chill Leftovers Promptly: Refrigerate leftovers within two hours to prevent bacterial growth. In hot weather (above 90°F), this should be done within one hour.
  5. Grill in a Safe Location: Keep your grill at least 10 feet away from your house, deck railings, and overhanging branches. Never leave the grill unattended, and keep children and pets at a safe distance.

UV Safety Month: Protect Your Skin and Eyes

While enjoying the sunny weather, it’s important to protect your skin and eyes from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. UV radiation can cause skin cancer, premature aging, and eye damage. Here are some tips to stay safe:

  1. Wear Sunscreen: Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Reapply every two hours, and more often if swimming or sweating.
  2. Seek Shade: Limit your sun exposure, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when UV rays are strongest.
  3. Wear Protective Clothing: Cover up with long-sleeved shirts, pants, and a wide-brimmed hat. UV-blocking sunglasses can protect your eyes from damage.
  4. Check the UV Index: The UV index provides important information on the strength of UV rays in your area. On days with high UV levels, take extra precautions.
  5. Avoid Tanning Beds: Tanning beds expose you to intense UV radiation, increasing your risk of skin cancer. Embrace your natural skin tone and avoid artificial tanning.

The Public Health Connection

Both grilling and UV safety are significant public health concerns. Foodborne illnesses affect millions of people each year, leading to hospitalizations and even deaths. By promoting safe grilling practices, we can reduce the incidence of these preventable illnesses.

Similarly, skin cancer is one of the most common cancers in the United States, but it is also one of the most preventable. Public awareness and education on UV safety can significantly decrease the risk of skin cancer and other UV-related health issues.

Join Us in Celebrating Safely

The Lincoln Trail District Health Department encourages everyone to enjoy the summer months responsibly. By following these grilling and UV safety tips, you can protect yourself and your loved ones while making the most of the season. Let’s celebrate National Grilling Month and UV Safety Month together, with health and safety as our top priorities.

For more information on food safety and UV protection, visit our website or contact us directly. Stay safe, stay healthy, and have a fantastic summer!

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