Friday, February 12, 2010
The Ministry of Health wishes to share a few tips on how citizens can protect themselves from high noise levels, sunburn and the consumption of unsafe food and water during the carnival period.
Noise Levels and Carnival
High noise levels, even short-term exposure, can permanently damage a person’s hearing and lead to annoying tinnitus (noise in the ear) which may not ever go away. It is not difficult to judge if the level of noise is loud enough to cause damage to hearing. The following signs should alert persons that the sound around them is loud enough to damage hearing:
- Persons have to shout to be heard
- Persons cannot understand anyone who is speaking to them from less than two (2) feet away
- Persons experience ringing in the ears or hearing loss after exposure to the loud sounds
The following is some general advice for the Carnival season:
- All persons especially children, should stay well away from speaker boxes, music trucks, very loud steel-bands or any other source of loud sound
- Ear protection (earplugs or earmuffs) should be worn if any adult or child is likely to be exposed to loud sound for long periods of time
- All musicians (including steelband players, music band players, rhythm section players, entertainers, etc.) should wear ear protection whenever the level of sound is high
- All masqueraders should wear ear protection if they are likely to be near to the music source or loud sound (e.g. near the “big truck”)
- Walking in front of loudspeakers should be avoided
- When wearing ear protection, individuals should be very alert and avoid areas with moving vehicular traffic or similar hazards, as all sounds will be muted
- Children wearing hearing protection should be closely supervised at all times
Protection From Sunburn
- Use sunscreen on any exposed skin areas. An SPF of 45+ is recommended. Use lip balm as well.
- Don’t forget hard-to-reach places such as the backs of your knees, back of your neck, elbows and the back of your ears. Feet should also be included if you are wearing sandals, flip-flops or going bare-foot.
- Put a small amount of oil or sunscreen so burning your hair will be avoided.
- Examine your skin frequently for new skin growth or changes in existing moles, freckles, bumps and birthmarks.
- Wear protective clothing e.g. long sleeved shirts, long pants & wide-brimmed hats.
- Beware of reflective surfaces such as sand, water and concrete which can reflect more than half the sun’s rays onto your skin.
N.B. The sun not only causes sunburns but can cause heat exhaustion and heat stroke; sitting in the shade is no guarantee of protection either.
Food Safety Tips
The following are some tips to prevent or reduce the risk of becoming ill from consuming unsafe food.
Cleanliness of food handler
Observe the appearance and personal habits of the food handler:
- Person should have clean clothing and their head should be covered
- Nails should be short, clean and there should be an absence of nail polish and excessive jewelry
- Persons should not have rashes and other visible skin infections
- Persons should not be smoking, picking their noses and scratching other parts of their body
- Persons should not be coughing, sneezing and displaying other symptoms that suggest they are ill
- The food handler should have a valid food badge displayed
Cleanliness of food area
Observe the general cleanliness of the area in which the food is being offered for sale:
- Dirt and garbage will attract flies and other pests which can contaminate food
- There should be provision for hand washing and bathroom facilities
Display and sale of food
- Food offered for sale should be protected from contamination by use of appropriate containers and covers
- Foods should be served hot or cold; avoid foods that have been sitting at room temperature. Example of foods that should be served hot include meats, rice vegetables etc
- Purchase foods that are displayed on warmers or chillers
- Foods that are cooked in your presence should also be safe
- Cooked foods should not be displayed next to raw foods.
- Appropriate utensils should be used for handling foods e.g. thongs, spoons etc.
- Food handler should not be touching food with his/her bare hands
Water and Ice Safety Tips
- Once a food contains or comes in contact with water, that food is at risk of being contaminated if the water is unclean
- Foods that are high risk include beverages (juices, drinks etc), fruits & vegetables, bottled water, snow cone, stored water etc.
- Ensure that water and ice are free from color, haze, odor, debris and off-taste
- Use only ice made with potable (clean & drinkable) water
- Do not use untreated water for food preparation, washing of utensils, equipment or hand washing.
- Use cleaned & sanitized utensils & tools to handle or store ice and water
- Keep potable water in a cool, sanitary place to avoid microbial growth & other contaminants
- Do not store water or ice in containers that did not previously contain food e.g. no paint buckets
- Use clean ice to cool foods
- Purchase water & ice from only reputable suppliers (this includes bottled water)