The days are long and barbecues and pool parties are the norm! Summer weather has officially arrived in the Las Vegas Valley. This Memorial Day weekend, the Southern Nevada Health District is offering tips and information to help residents and visitors stay healthy and safe during the long, hot summer while enjoying their favorite activities.
Patrol. Protect. Prepare.
Swimming is the perfect summer activity. It is an excellent way to beat the heat and participate in physical activity. Keep it safe! In 2017, there were 53 non-fatal submersion incidents and 10 fatal drownings among children in Clark County. On average, 80 percent of these occurred in swimming pools. It takes just seconds for a child to be submerged.
The Health District and its community partners remind everyone to ensure there is a Water Watcher whenever children are around water and to take three steps to prevent drowning:
- Patrol: always designate an adult to be a Water Watcher when children are in pools, lakes, or even bathtubs;
- Protect: install barriers between the home and the pool that includes fences, locks, and alarms;
- Prepare: create a safety plan that includes having a phone nearby, knowing CPR skills, having rescue tools available, and enrolling children in swim classes.
Learn more about the Nevada Water Watcher program at GetHealthyClarkCounty.org.
Fight the Bite.
The Health District’s Mosquito Surveillance Program recently kicked off its summer trapping activities. To date, the Health District has not reported any cases of West Nile virus, but it is important to note that it is early in the season. Except for 2010, cases of West Nile virus have been reported each year since 2004. In addition to West Nile, mosquito-borne illnesses include St. Louis Encephalitis and Western Equine Encephalitis. In 2017, the Health District identified the mosquito that is responsible for Zika virus, dengue fever, and chikungunya.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported that there has been an increase in diseases associated with mosquito and tick bites across the country. The Health District encourages everyone to take steps to protect against mosquito and tick bites whether they are here in the Las Vegas Valley or if they are traveling.
The following recommendations can help minimize exposure to mosquito breeding sources and bites:
- Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellants containing DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), or 2-undecanone.
- Wear pants and long-sleeved shirts to reduce mosquito exposure when outdoors.
- Eliminate areas of standing water around your home, including non-circulating ponds,
“green” swimming pools, and accumulated sprinkler runoff, which support mosquito breeding.
- Make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens without tears or holes.
- If you are outdoors in a mosquito infested area, place mosquito netting over infant carriers.
- Use mosquito netting when sleeping outdoors or in an unscreened structure.
More information can be found on the CDC’s Prevent Mosquito Bites webpage.
The forecast? Sunny and hot.
It is hot and sunny all summer with triple-digit temperatures between June and September. Everyone should take precautions to reduce their risk of heat-related illnesses. High summer temperatures can be especially harmful to older adults, people with chronic medical conditions, and children. Residents and visitors who may not be used to the high temperatures should use precautions. During summer, the following steps can help minimize the risk of heat-related illness and injury:
- Plan activities earlier in the morning or later in the evening.
- Dress in light, loose fitting clothes.
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect the face and use sunscreen.
- If unaccustomed to working or exercising in a hot environment, start slowly and gradually increase the pace.
- Avoid being out in the sun for extended periods of time.
- When planning extended outdoor activity, bring an adequate supply of water. Drink plenty of water at regular intervals – regardless of activity level.
- Avoid alcohol or liquids contain high amounts of sugar.
- Plan well-balanced light meals.
- Check the local weather forecasts and plan activities accordingly.
- Check on the status of homebound neighbors and relatives.
Caution: Persons who have epilepsy or heart, kidney, or liver disease; are on fluid-restrictive or low-salt diets; or have a problem with fluid retention should consult a doctor before increasing liquid intake or changing what they eat and drink.
Millions of people enjoy beaches, pools, water parks, and lakes throughout the summer. There have been outbreaks of infections linked to swimming pools and water parks in recent years. These illnesses can spread when people swallow pool water that has been contaminated with diarrhea.
While a pool that is well maintained with the appropriate chemical levels will kill most germs within a few minutes, the Cryptosporidim parasite (Crypto), is harder to kill. A pool must be closed and “hyperchlorinated” to treat effectively.
Pool inspections play an important role in maintaining appropriate levels of disinfectant and pH to keep pools clean and safe, however, swimmers are also encouraged to follow guidelines to keep germs from spreading and to enjoy the many health benefits swimming offers:
- Do not swallow pool water.
- Do not swim if you are ill with diarrhea.
- Shower with soap before swimming and wash hands after using the restroom or changing diapers.
- Take children on regular bathroom breaks and/or check diapers often.
- Change diapers in a restroom or diaper-changing area, not at poolside.
- Wash children thoroughly (especially their buttocks) with soap and water before they go swimming.
Additional information about recreational water illnesses and prevention is available at the CDC’s Healthy Swimming webpage.
Foodborne illnesses peak during summer when the temperatures heat up. Safe food handling practices go from the kitchen to the grill. Check your food safety steps:
- Separate: Keep meats and produce separated. Purchase meat, poultry, seafood right before checkout at the grocery store and pack them separately.
- Chill: Keep meat, poultry, and seafood in the fridge until you’re ready to grill. If you’re packing them for a road trip, keep them in an insulated cooler with a temperature below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Clean: Wash your hands with soap and water after handling raw meat, poultry, and seafood. Clean cutting boards, utensils, and the grill before and after cooking.
- Cook: Use a food thermometer to ensure meat is hot enough to kill any harmful germs.
Additional information about food safety is available on the CDC’s Get Ready to Grill Safely webpage.