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Observance of Memorial Day Holiday

By David Crum

May 19, 2023

All Florida Department of Health in St. Johns County offices will be closed on Monday, May 29, 2023 in observance of the Memorial Day Holiday. The Department's offices will reopen on Tuesday, May 30, 2023 with regularly scheduled hours.

To report a notifiable disease or public health emergency, please call 904-506-6081 to connect with the after-hours on-call service.


Memorial Day is set aside every year to honor those who have served our country, and it marks the unofficial start of summer. The Florida Department of Health encourages residents and visitors to practice safety and consider healthy choices this weekend and throughout the summer months.

Sun's Up, Cover Up

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), skin cancer is the most common cancer in the U.S. In 2019, 7,503 new melanoma cases, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, were reported in Florida.

The best way to protect skin is to cover with sunscreen, shade and clothing. FDOH recommends using a sunscreen with a UVA/UVB SPF 15 or higher. Sunscreen is most effective when it's reapplied every two hours.

Shade breaks taken throughout the day, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun is strongest, limits sun exposure.

While hats and sunglasses are standard beach attire, adults and children should also cover up with lightweight clothing. Swim shirts are a good idea. Many carry a UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) rating of 50+ that blocks out over 98 percent of the sun's harmful rays.

When using sunscreen with insect repellent, apply sunscreen first.

Beat the Heat

Anyone can suffer from  heat exhaustion so it's important to know the symptoms: headaches, dizziness, weakness, lightheadedness, irritability or confusion, upset stomach and vomiting. Heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke—the most serious form of heat injury.

Dress for the heat: the same lightweight, loose-fitting clothing worn to cover up from the sun, can also reflect heat and sunlight if it's light-colored. This type of covering helps the body maintain normal temperatures.

Drinking plenty of water before thirst sets in and avoiding alcohol will keep the body hydrated. Heavy meals will increase body temperature.

If you are planning on staying active and beating the heat by swimming in a public pool or a beach this weekend, make sure the water is safe. The department conducts routine inspections of public pools to ensure they meet sanitation and safety standards and making the reports available to the public. To access the latest inspection reports for public pools and water playgrounds near you, click here. Additionally, the Florida Healthy Beaches program samples water weekly from beaches along the coast and reports water quality. Residents and visitors are also reminded to avoid contact with visible algae in the water.

The department recommends the following steps to ensure a healthy swim:

  • Shower with soap before you get in the water;
  • Don't swallow the water you swim in;
  • Stay out of the water if you have diarrhea;
  • Parents should take children on bathroom breaks every 60 minutes;
  • Wash your hands after visiting the bathroom or changing diapers; and
  • Visit your local hardware or pool-supply store and purchase pool test strips to check the chlorine and pH levels before getting into the water.

It is also important to keep an eye on young or inexperienced swimmers in order to prevent injury or drowning. By incorporating layers of protection, including supervision, barriers and emergency preparedness, pool-goers can swim safely and securely. For more information, visit WaterSmartFL.com.

Food Safety Tips for the Outdoors

Grilling out can be memorable and delicious, but be sure to take precautions to avoid a fire. To enjoy a safe grilling experience, follow these tips:

  • All grills should only be used outdoors;
  • The grill should be placed away from buildings, deck railings and out from under overhanging trees or objects;
  • Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the area;
  • Keep your grill clean by removing grease or buildup from the grates and in the bottom tray;
  • Use a food thermometer to ensure foods are cooked to a safe internal temperature; 145 degrees for whole meats, 160 degrees for ground meats and 165 degrees for all poultry; and
  • Never leave the grill unattended.

 When cooking, avoid food poisoning and keep your cooking area clean, cook foods to the proper and safe temperature and discard perishable items that have been out of the refrigerator longer than two hours.

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