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Stay Out of the ER During Memorial Day Weekend

The American College of Emergency Physicians offers tips to help you avoid the emergency department during the holiday.

Fun in the sun, by the pool, on a boat, or at a barbeque can quickly send you to the emergency department on Memorial Day if you don't plan ahead, the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) warns.

"We want people to have fun on Memorial Day weekend, which officially kicks off summer," said Dr. Angela Gardner, ACEP. "But having fun also means staying safe, using good judgment and taking simple precautions that will help keep you out of the ER and most importantly, keep you alive."

ACEP has put together the top five tips that you and your family should follow in order to stay safe and healthy over the holiday weekend.

Tip 1: Food Safety -- To avoid food poisoning, the Department of Agriculture recommends cooking fresh poultry to 165 degrees, hamburgers to 160 degrees, and beef to at least 145 degrees. Refrigerate all perishable food within two hours, one hour if the temperature outside is above 90 degrees. To guard against cross-contamination of bacteria, keep uncooked meats away from other foods.

Tip 2: Grill Safety -- Emergency physicians see firsthand the dangers associated with an outdoor grill. Consumers should thoroughly clean a grill of any grease or dust. Check the tubes leading into the burner for any blockages from insects or food grease that can cause an uncontrolled fire. Replace any connectors which can lead to a gas leak and keep lighted cigarettes, matches, or open flames away from a leaking grill. Do not use a grill in a garage, breezeway, carport, and porch, or near any surface that can catch fire. Also, always follow the manufacturer's instructions that accompany the grill.

Tip 3: Water Safety -- To prevent drowning, avoid alcohol when swimming or boating. Wear a lifejacket whenever you are on a boat. Make sure young children are supervised at all times when near the beach, on a boat, or by a pool or hot tub. Don't swim alone or in bad weather. Learn to swim and teach your children to swim. Learn CPR in case of an emergency.

Tip 4: Sun Safety -- Protect against sunburn and heat stroke. Wear sunscreen with at least an SPF of 15 or higher and apply it generously throughout the day. Wear a hat outdoors and a good pair of sunglasses to protect your eyes. Drink plenty of water, especially when in the sun or if you are sweating heavily. If you feel faint or nauseous, get into a cool place immediately.

Tip 5: Travel Safety -- Do not drink and drive or travel with anyone who has been drinking. Wear your seatbelt at all times. Make sure your vehicle has been properly serviced and is in good working shape before a long road trip. Familiarize yourself with your surroundings if you are in an unfamiliar place and know where the nearest emergency room is to you at all times in case of an emergency.

"Many of the factors that will determine your safety over Memorial Day weekend or any time this summer will come down to good decision-making and common sense," Gardner said. "As someone who sees the consequences up close, my best advice is, know your limits, be mindful of certain risks, and stay smart."

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