The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) wants to remind residents of several straightforward measures they can take to help prevent illness or injury from interrupting their July 4th celebrations and other activities.
Summertime offers opportunities to attend outdoor events and get-togethers with family and friends, that unfortunately can also result in sunburn, dehydration, food and mosquito-borne illness, firework injuries and increased COVID-19 transmission if precautions are not taken. To help safeguard this summer’s fun in the sun, Public Health is offering safety tips to Los Angeles County residents.
While COVID-19 indicators remain low in Los Angeles County, risk remains, especially for people who are older or immunocompromised. To avoid inadvertently spreading COVID-19 to others, anyone with possible symptoms, such as a cough, runny nose, fever or headache, should stay home.
For extra assurance, Public Health recommends testing for anyone who has symptoms, has been exposed to COVID-19 or if they are attending a gathering with someone at higher risk for severe illness from COVID. Free tests continue to be available across Los Angeles County. More information and site locations are available at ph.lacounty.gov/COVIDtests.
To reduce the risk of heat-related illness, consider seeking shade or going indoors when the sun is warmest between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher, and wearing protective clothing, including hats and long sleeves. Call 911 if someone is experiencing possible sun poisoning symptoms, such as high body temperature, nausea or vomiting, dizziness or pale and clammy skin.
When spending time outdoors in the sun, be sure to stay hydrated. Consider carrying a reusable bottle and sipping throughout the day, especially during physical activities or when consuming caffeine or alcohol, which can be dehydrating. Symptoms of dehydration, indicating that a person may need to drink more liquids, include dry mouth or lips, headaches or light headedness. Hydrating foods, such as melon, berries, or cucumbers, also can be added to menus.
Think about food safety when planning celebrations, whether hosting a party or going on an outing. Make sure that meats are cooked to the proper temperatures: 160-degrees Fahrenheit for ground meats, poultry and eggs and 145-degrees Fahrenheit for steaks, roasts and fish. Cold foods should be stored at 40-degrees Fahrenheit or lower and leftovers need to be refrigerated or thrown away after two hours.
Foodborne illness can appear as stomach pain, vomiting or diarrhea in the hours or days after eating contaminated food and can be severe, and in some cases, life-threatening for older adults, young children, pregnant people and those who are immunocompromised. A simple food thermometer can help make sure food is being stored at safe temperatures and ice and coolers should be available to store food at outdoor events.
Mosquitos are abundant in many parts of the county. Using effective insect repellent when outdoors and wearing protective clothing covering arms and legs can help prevent annoying bites and potential exposure to mosquito-borne illnesses including West Nile virus.
Many Fourth of July celebrations feature fireworks. Personal use of fireworks is illegal in Los Angeles County and children should not be allowed to handle or ignite fireworks. Never hold a lit firework and do not try to reignite a firework that does not go off or malfunctions. To safely enjoy a firework show, grab a blanket or chairs and enjoy one of the many public displays being held throughout Los Angeles County.
At any event or gathering, there is always the possibility of contracting COVID-19. If a person tests positive, it is important they inform others who have been exposed. Many people who test positive are eligible for COVID-19 treatment, which is widely available and must be started within five days of symptom onset. Health care providers can prescribe an oral therapeutic for COVID-19, which is shown to reduce the chance for severe illness and hospitalization, or free telehealth services are available through the Public Health Call Center, open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., by phoning 1-833-540-0473.
Residents looking for more information or additional tips about staying safe this summer can visit ph.lacounty.gov/media/summer.