Health Care Professionals Promote Summer Safety

Independence Day may not be the official start of summer in the U.S., but it’s certainly one of the season’s grandest fireworks-filled celebrations. If you’re interested in helping people stay safe as they participate in summer festivities, consider becoming an emergency medical technician (EMT) or a food safety specialist.

EMTs respond when celebrating goes wrong

Each year, about seven people die of fireworks-related deaths and another 10,000 people are injured. The majority of these injuries happen in summer, especially in the 30-day period surrounding July 4th. Only three states— Massachusetts, New Jersey and Delaware — completely ban personal fireworks, but accidents still occur even in those states.

Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) are some of the first to respond in most emergency situations, including those related to fireworks accidents. They are able to perform life-saving medical procedures quickly as they stabilize patients for transport to the closest hospital.

Being an EMT is a full-time, around-the-clock job. Shift work is most common, even for rural areas that have volunteer forces. While every day brings different levels and types of emergencies, there are particularly busy periods like holiday weekends and bad weather. EMTs work daily with nurses and physicians, as well as other first responders.

The education required to become an EMT varies based on the level of procedures that the technicians are allowed to perform, and also differs slightly from state to state. For an EMT to provide basic life saving techniques, they must complete a course that ranges from 120 to 150 hours. For the advanced life-saving techniques a paramedic can perform, the classes range from 1,200 to 1,800 hours.

Food safety specialists protect BBQ guests

Summer weather provides the perfect excuse to eat outside, but it’s no excuse to ignore food safety standards. Of course there are a few things to keep in mind when safely operating a grill, but that’s not the only safety concern introduced by cooking and eating in the heat.

The USDA warns that food-borne illness peaks each summer, partly because bacteria multiply faster in warmer temperatures and preparing food outdoors makes safely handling food more difficult. This information should not discourage anyone from grilling, cooking or eating outdoors, but it should encourage everyone to make sure they are doing so safely.

As a precaution, the USDA recommends that people take four step approach to food safety, particularly in the summer months:

  • Clean all hands and surfaces with warm, soapy water both before and after handling food.
  • Separate raw meats from other foods during preparation.
  • Cook all food thoroughly, ensuring meat reaches the correct temperature before it’s served.
  • Chill all perishable foods including meat and any salads.

If you’re intrigued by the science of safe food preparation, then a career as a food safety specialist may be right for you.  As most Americans have transitioned to an “easier” lifestyle, we are consuming more than 20% of meals outside our home. In order to ensure there is a high quality of food, both in the supply and in the preparation, we rely on food safety specialists to monitor how our food is prepared.

Food safety specialists often come across unsanitary and potentially disgusting scenarios, so it is safe to say this job isn’t for everyone. Inspections by these professionals can occur in restaurants, processing plants and even on farms.

Community health workers promote year-round safety

Food and firework safety aren’t the only important things to consider when promoting summer safety. Each summer, many people suffer from injuries caused by lawn mowers, boating accidents, dehydration, sunburn and insect stings as well. Knowledge is power when it comes to avoiding these.

If you want to commit your time and effort to promoting public safety, but becoming and EMT or Food Safety Specialist isn’t the right path, there are several health care careers that will give you an opportunity to educate others on safety. For one, you could consider becoming a community health worker. When it comes to summer safety, they are a great tool to spreading the word. Other health care professionals as well as public health administrators can work with community health workers to develop a strategy for educating the public.

From rural to urban areas, community health workers form a relationship with the community they serve, fostering trust and two-way communication. This makes it easier for them to pass along information. Often times, people who have experienced diversity, discrimination or another shared life experience make the best community health workers, as the people in the community they serve feel they are trustworthy.

This summer, while you celebrate the season, look for ways that health care professionals around you help others live safe lives. You might be surprised to find a potential health care career that you hadn’t discovered before.


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