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Press Release

June 26, 2003 Contact: CDC Media Relations

CDC Highlights Summer Health and Safety Tips

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today called on all Americans to protect their health while they pursue summertime fitness and fun and provided key summer safety tips.

"Summer is a great time to enjoy the great outdoors and swim, hike, travel and barbecue, but we also want to steer clear of accidents and injuries," Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson said. “By taking simple, common-sense precautions, we can have fun and stay safe at the same time.”

CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding, at a news briefing, discussed the importance of taking simple, commonsense precautions that everyone can do to help keep families safe as they enjoy their summer.

"I like to hike and garden, and I fully appreciate the benefits of outdoor activities as a way to stay healthy," Dr. Gerberding said. "I join the Secretary in encouraging everyone to get out and be active--and to play it safe--this summer."

Topics covered during the briefing included:

Sun and Heat: Studies show more than a million cases of the most common forms of skin cancer are diagnosed each year, and that even a few serious sunburns can increase your risk of getting skin cancer. You can protect yourself during the time of day when the sun's UV (ultraviolet) rays are strongest – between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. – by wearing long sleeves and pants, and by applying sunscreen and a protective lip balm with an SPF of 15 or higher. Be sure to reapply frequently especially after swimming.

Heat exposure caused 8,015 deaths in the United States from 1979-1999. Most heat-related deaths occur in the hot summer months, and the elderly, the very young and people with chronic health problems are most at risk. Because even healthy people can fall victim to summer heat, take the following precautions to reduce your risk:

  • Drink plenty of water or other non-alcoholic beverages;
  • Wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing that is light in color;
  • Reduce strenuous activities or do them during the cooler parts of the day.

Water Safety: Thousands of Americans drown each year, and thousands more are injured or killed in boating accidents. Drowning is the second leading cause of injury-related death for children age 14 and under. Follow these common-sense precautions for safe summer fun in the water:

  • Always have an adult closely supervise young children any time they are swimming, playing or even bathing in water;
  • Never swim alone or in unsupervised locations. Teach your children to always swim with a buddy;
  • Never drink alcohol before or while swimming, boating or water skiing, and never drink alcohol while supervising children;
  • Learn to swim, as swimming lessons benefit adults and children age 4 and up;
  • Properly maintain your pool to help prevent the spread of infectious diseases. Never swallow pool, lake, or river water.

Food Safety: Summer is the season for outdoor barbecues and picnics; however, food-related illness can put a damper on those outdoor fests. CDC estimates that 76 million Americans get sick from food-related illness every year. More than 300,000 end up hospitalized and about 5,000 die each year from foodborne illness. Protect yourself and your friends and family in these ways:

  • Cook meat, poultry and seafood thoroughly. Use a meat thermometer to be sure your grilled meats are “done.” Ground beef, for example, should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Don't cross-contaminate one food with another. Wash your hands, utensils and cutting boards after they have been in contact with raw meat or poultry and before they touch another food;
  • Bacteria can grow quickly at room temperature, so refrigerate leftover foods promptly;
  • Wash produce thoroughly to remove visible dirt, and discard the outermost leaves of a head of lettuce or cabbage.

CDC also released today a new and expanded edition of Health Information for International Travel. The book, commonly referred to as “The Yellow Book” and considered by many to be the gold standard on travel information, contains new information on scuba diving safety, high altitude travel, travel information for individuals with specific health needs, and travel with children. The book is available online at For more information about these and other safe summer tips, visit CDC's Web site at and Summer Health and Safety Tips.

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CDC protects people's health and safety by preventing and controlling diseases and injuries; enhances health decisions by providing credible information on critical health issues; and promotes healthy living through strong partnerships with local, national, and international organizations.


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This page last updated June 26, 2003

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