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Summer Safety for You and Your Kids

Foodborne Illness continued...

Foodborne illness prevention and treatment

It seems so basic, but not everyone does it. Wash your hands well and often with soap and water, especially after using the bathroom and before cooking or eating. Also wash surfaces when cooking, keep raw food separate from cooked food, marinate food in the refrigerator, cook food thoroughly, and refrigerate or freeze food promptly. Never defrost and then refreeze foods. The FDA suggests never leaving food out for more than one hour when the temperature is above 90 degrees. Any other time, don't leave food out for more than two hours. Keep hot food hot and cold food cold  Wash off fruits and vegetables with cool running water. Also, scrub fruits with rough surfaces like cantaloupe with a soft brush.

When you are packing food for a picnic, place cold food in a cooler with plenty of ice or commercial freezing gels. Cold food should be held at or below 40 degrees and the cooler should be stored in shade. Hot food should be wrapped well, placed in an insulated container, and kept at or above 140 degrees.

Keeping a child with foodborne illness hydrated is the most important job. Electrolyte solutions like Pedialyte are good, but not all children like the flavor. Sports drinks are a reasonable alternative in the short term. Popsicles and ice chips are also acceptable when all else fails. Encourage the child to drink small amounts frequently, and watch to be sure that he or she urinates at least every six to eight hours. Once vomiting stops, return the child to a regular diet as soon as tolerated, but be aware that milk and fruit juices can sometimes prolong diarrhea. Seek emergency treatment if severe pain accompanies the illness, if vomiting doesn't stop in a few hours, or if blood appears in diarrhea.

Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, and Poison Sumac

Betsy Dunphy, 44, enjoys living in a woody area in Herndon, Va. But she could do without the poison ivy. She once missed a week of work when a rash from the vine spread all over her face and chest. In another summer, she developed a poison ivy rash on her wrist after moving azalea plants, and was careful to keep it from spreading.

Rashes from poison ivy, oak, or sumac are all caused by urushiol, a substance in the sap of the plants. Poison plant rashes can't be spread from person to person, but it's possible to pick up a rash from urushiol that sticks to clothing, tools, balls, and pets.

Poison plant rash prevention and treatment

Dunphy says she's been able to avoid an outbreak in the last two years mainly by learning what poison ivy looks like and avoiding it. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, while "leaves of three, beware of me," is the old saying, "leaflets of three, beware of me" is even better because each leaf has three smaller leaflets.

WebMD Medical Reference

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