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Staying safe and healthy this summer



Wednesday 18 December 2013

Staying safe and healthy this summer

With summer holidays around the corner, Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) is urging Auckland residents to take steps to reduce the risks that come with the warmer months.

“We all look forward to taking some time out over summer,” says ARPHS Clinical Director Dr Julia Peters, “but summer holidays bring with them their own unique stressors.

“By following the guidelines below, and by looking out for each other, Aucklanders can look forward to a safe, healthy, and relaxing summer.” 

Safe consumption of alcohol
•            It’s important that alcohol is consumed in safe environments and not to excess.  No one should be pressured to consume alcohol. Safe drinking guidelines, including recommended alcohol limits, can be found on the Health Promotion Agency (HPA) website.
•            As of today it’s illegal to supply alcohol to anyone under 18 without their parent’s or guardian’s consent. See the HPA website for more information.
•            When serving alcohol to family or friends a plentiful range of food options, as well as non-alcoholic drinks and water, need to be available.
•            Do not drink and drive – ensure you have a designated driver or an alternate method of getting home.
•            Excessive consumption of alcohol is associated with many adverse social outcomes: take care with alcohol consumption this summer.

Food handling 
•          We are seeing an increase in nasty tummy bugs – specifically salmonella and cryptosporidium. Campylobacter is the number one food poisoning disease in New Zealand, with about 50 cases notified in Auckland each week.
•          People catch these diseases by swallowing the germs that may have come from contaminated water and food, or from being in contact with infected animals or other people. As summer may involve more visits to the farm or zoo, ensure you wash and dry your hands thoroughly after touching animals. Check out our tips on hand hygiene.
•          The four Cs of food safety are: Clean, Cook, Cover, Chill. This includes washing and drying hands thoroughly, ensuring meats are thoroughly cooked during barbequing, not using the same plates to prepare or carry raw and cooked food, and making sure prepared food or leftovers are kept in cool storage.

Safe drinking water
•          For those on roof water, ensuring your drinking water supply is clean is critical for avoiding campylobacter and cryptosporidium, among other illnesses.
•          There are a number of things you can do to reduce the risk.  For more information read HealthEd’s advice onsafe drinking water and household water supplies.  

Jellyfish and Sea Bather’s Eruption
•          During summer – particularly hot ones – ARPHS sometimes receives reports of swimmers suffering rashes caused by stings from microscopic jellyfish at Auckland’s beaches.
•          Known as ‘Sea Bather’s Eruption’, those affected generally have an itchy red rash on the swimwear-covered areas. The rash can vary from being mild (slight discomfort) to severe. Children are most at risk. 
•          To reduce the risk, try not to wear large baggy clothes in the water. After swimming, remove your swimwear as soon as possible and shower if you can. Don’t towel off straight after swimming – this will just set off the stinging.
•          Bluebottle jellyfish are also common around New Zealand. If you get stung, wash the affected area with fresh or saltwater. Remove any tentacles or stings attached to the skin, but not with your bare hands, and place the affected area in warm water.
•          For further information see our Jellyfish Fact Sheet.

Safe Swimming   
•          Check the Auckland Council’s Safeswim monitoring programme, which provides regular assessments of water quality at beaches in the region. If you do not have access to a computer, you can phone Auckland Council on 09 301 0101, and ask for Safeswim advice.
•          Wait at least 48 hours after heavy rainfall before swimming. Avoid swimming near storm drains or sewage outfall pipes.
•          Swim between the flags, and keep small children in arm’s reach.
•          Learn to swim and make sure children, friends and whanau learn too. See Water Safety NZ for more advice.
•          Take care when fishing, especially on surf beaches, and don’t turn your back on the sea. Always wear a life jacket on boats, and ensure children are wearing age-appropriate life jackets.

ARPHS wishes all Aucklanders a safe, and happy, summer period.


For further information:
Health Promotion Agency’s alcohol website
Food safety tips
Foodborne illnesses
Hand hygiene tips
Water collection tanks and safe household water
Household water supplies
Fact sheet on jellyfish and Sea Bather’s Eruption


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