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RIDOH Shares Tips for a Healthy Memorial Day Weekend

As many Rhode Islanders plan to gather with family and friends this holiday weekend, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is issuing a reminder about the important steps people should take to stay healthy and safe.

Travel responsibly

Never drink and drive. Additionally, never drive after using other substances that impair your ability to drive safely. Substances that impair your ability to drive safely include marijuana, illicit drugs, many types of prescription medicines, and some over-the-counter medicines.

If you have been drinking alcohol and/or using drugs, get a ride home with a driver who has not been drinking or using drugs, use a rideshare service, or call a taxi.

Roughly 30% of all traffic-related deaths in the United States involve an alcohol-impaired driver.

Food safety

Proper handling, preparation, cooking, and storing is key to keeping food safe and preventing food-borne illness year-round. However, these precautions are particularly important as the weather gets warmer, and people start grilling outside.

When handling and grilling raw meat, chicken and other poultry, and seafood, people should:

- Separate the food to be grilled from other from other food. - Refrigerate before grilling or cooking. - Never thaw or marinate on the counter. - Wash your hands before and after handling. - Make sure its juices do not touch other food, utensils, and surfaces. - Use a food thermometer to ensure it is cooked to a safe internal temperature.

Additional food safety tips include:

- Wash work surfaces and utensils with hot, soapy water before and after cooking. - If you are grilling, use a moist cloth or paper towel to clean the grill surface before cooking. If you use a wire bristle brush, thoroughly inspect the grill's surface for loose bristles before cooking. Wire bristles can become loose and get stuck in food. - Divide leftovers into small portions and place in covered, shallow containers. Put in the freezer or fridge within two hours of cooking (within one hour if above 90F outside).

Sun safety and beaches

Rhode Islanders are also reminded to protect themselves from the sun's rays and enjoy the beach safely this summer. RIDOH will monitor beach water quality for bacteria this year from May 30th to Labor Day.

- Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30 sunscreen whenever spending time outdoors, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Reapply every two hours. - Seek shade where possible, consider wearing UPF sun-protective clothing, and wear a hat with a brim that shades the face and ears, especially if spending an extended amount of time outdoors. - After May 30th, look at the latest beach closures and advisories before going to the beach. - Be aware and prepare for hot temperatures.

Prevent tick bites

After being outdoors, people should take three steps to prevent tick bites, which can lead to Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases: Repel, Check, Remove.

Repel - keep ticks off you, your children, and pets by:

- Avoiding wooded and brushy areas with high grass and leaves. If you are going to be in a wooded area, walk in the center of the trail to avoid contact with overgrown grass, brush, and leaves at the edges of the trail. You can also spray your clothes with permethrin to keep ticks away. Make sure to not spray this on your skin. - Wearing long pants and long-sleeve shirts when outside. - Tucking your pants into your socks so ticks do not crawl under your clothes. - Wearing light-colored clothing so you can see ticks more easily.

Check - check yourself, your children, and pets, for ticks by:

- Taking a shower as soon as you come inside if you have been in grassy or wooded areas. - Doing a full-body tick check using a mirror; parents should check their kids for ticks and pay special attention to the area in and around the ears, in the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs, around the waist, and in their hair. - Checking your pets for ticks as well because they can bring ticks into the home.

Remove - remove ticks from your body, as well as from children and pets, if you find them.

- Use a set of tweezers to remove the tick. Grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull straight up. - If you don't have tweezers, use your fingers with a tissue or rubber gloves.

For more information about tick bite prevention, see: health.ri.gov/ticks

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