For many people, the Australia Day long weekend is a chance to relax, recharge and push the boat out (sometimes literally). But hot weather and BBQs come with risks.
Follow these handy, practical tips to ensure you enjoy the sun and snags, while avoiding any alcohol-related misadventure or dodgy prawn issues.
- Barbeque like a pro. Avoid food poisoning by keeping BBQ meat and veggies cold and covered until ready to be used, advises Food Standards Australia and New Zealand. Use different plates and utensils for raw and cooked foods; and cook all meat for long enough so the juices run clear. Don't keep leftovers if they've been out of the fridge for more than 2 hours.
- Use the Summer Health app. If you have a Google Home or Google Assistant installed on your phone, launch Healthdirect Australia's new voice app by saying, "Talk to Summer Health" or, "Ask Summer Health about…" You can quiz the Summer Health app for info on summer-related topics such as sunstroke, sunburn, bites and stings, and the UV index in your nearest major city.
- Don't drink and dive. Many people spend Australia Day at the beach or in the pool. According to Royal Life Saving, between July 2018 and
June 2019, 276 people lost their lives to drowning. Adult men are far more likely to drown than women, and alcohol (and illicit drugs) is considered a major risk factor.
Alcohol increases the risk of drowning by impairing judgement, reducing coordination and delaying reaction time. It's best to avoid drinking around water and swimming or taking a boat out under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Never go in or on the water alone, advises Royal Life Saving.
- Watch your little swimmers. Even if your child is a confident swimmer, they must be supervised by an adult when near water — even shallow paddling pools or baths. Among children aged 0-14, in 2018/19 more drownings occurred in swimming pools than at any other location, and in most cases drowning occurred when the child fell into the water.
- Count your drinks. It's easy to consume more alcohol than you realise, especially if you're at the pub on Australia Day. Drinks served in bars or restaurants often contain more than 1 standard drink (a 'standard drink' is supposed to be a can or bottle of mid-strength beer, 100ml of wine or a 30ml shot of spirits).
Australian Guidelines recommend healthy adults drink no more than 4 standard drinks per day, and no more than 10 standard drinks per week. Set yourself a drinks limit for the day and stick to it.
For more advice, check out healthdirect's top 7 tips for safe drinking.
- Protect yourself from the sun — even if it's cloudy. According to the Cancer Council, you can get sun damage on windy, cloudy and cool days. Sun damage is caused by ultraviolet (UV) radiation, not the temperature, so an overcast summer day can have similar UV levels to a sunny summer day. In fact, UV radiation not only penetrates some clouds but can be more intense due to reflection off the clouds. Read more about sun protection here.
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