Tips for staying safe and healthy this summer Friday, 19 December 2014

ARPHS Media Release

Whether you are staying home or travelling out of town, Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) is asking Aucklanders to take steps to reduce the risks that can arise over summer.

"There are few greater joys in life than a relaxing summer holiday," says ARPHS Clinical Director Dr Julia Peters.

"But summer also brings with it its share of risks, which can be reduced by following a few guidelines."

Safe alcohol consumption

  • Do not drink and drive. The alcohol limit for drivers 20 years and over was lowered from 400 to 250 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath on 1 December. This is a large reduction and means as few as one or two drinks can now put you over the limit.
  • The changes mean arranging a sober driver or an alternative form of transport are now even more important. To help plan your occasion, safe drinking guidelines, including recommended alcohol limits, can be found on the Health Promotion Agency website.
  • It is illegal to supply alcohol to anyone under 18 without their parent's or guardian's consent.
  • When serving alcohol, a plentiful range of food, as well as non-alcoholic drinks and water, should also be available.


Safe food handling 

  • Campylobacter is New Zealand's number one food poisoning disease, with about 50 cases notified in Auckland each week, mostly in the warmer months.
  • People catch food poisoning by swallowing germs from contaminated water and food, or from contact with infected animals or other people.
  • The four Cs of food safety are: Clean, Cook, Cover, and Chill. This means washing and drying hands thoroughly, ensuring meats are thoroughly cooked, 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. Check out ARPHS' hand hygiene tips.


Safe drinking water

  • For those on roof water, ensuring your drinking water supply is clean is vital for avoiding campylobacter, giardia 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 on safe drinking water and household water supplies.
  • If you need to fill your drinking water tank over summer, be sure to use a registered supplier. See the Drinking Water for New Zealand website for a list of registered water carriers.


Safe swimming  

  • Check Auckland Council's Safeswim site, which provides regular updates on water quality at Auckland's beaches. You can also 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 pipes.
  • Swim between the flags, and keep small children in arm's reach.
  • Take care when fishing, especially on surf beaches. Always wear a life jacket when fishing, don't fish alone, and don't turn your back on the waves. Wear a life jacketon boats, and ensure children are wearing age-appropriate life jackets.
  • Sometimes ARPHS gets reports of swimmers suffering rashes from microscopic jellyfish. This is known as Sea Bather's Eruption, and the risks can be reduced by not wearing baggy clothing in the water, and by removing swimwear and showering as soon as possible after swimming. See our jellyfish fact sheet for more information.


Safe travel

  • If you are travelling elsewhere in New Zealand, look out for toxic shellfish warnings. There is currently a shellfish warning in place for the Bay of Plenty. See the Ministry for Primary Industries website for safety tips for shellfish gatherers.
  • Parts of the Pacific are experiencing outbreaks of dengue fever, Zika virus and/or chikungunya. The main threat is currently chikungunya in French Polynesia and Samoa. For more information check the ARPHS website.
  • You can protect yourself from these viruses by applying insect repellant, especially those containing DEET at a concentration of 30-50 percent, and wearing clothing that covers your arms and legs.
  • Measles outbreaks are ongoing in the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. Last summer 12 passengers with measles flew into Auckland, causing a major outbreak in which 112 people became ill.
  • The best protection against measles is two doses of the Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccine (MMR) after your first birthday. Check with your GP whether you and your family are fully immunised, especially before travelling overseas.


All of us at ARPHS would like to wish Aucklanders a great Christmas and happy New Year.