Friday, May 25, 2012

Memorial Day Safety Tips

With Memorial Day weekend upon us, the outdoor activities and invitations will be endless. In the midst of all the celebrating, don't forget about safety in both your activities and food. And also remember those who serve and have served our country. Have a great weekend!

Courtesy of the American Red Cross
Water safety is important
For pool owners, knowing what equipment to have on hand and what to do in an emergency is key to safety.
Water safety tips include:
  • Closely supervise children whenever they are near any body of water. Never leave a young child unattended near water, and do not trust a child’s life to another child; teach children to always ask permission to go near water.
  • Avoid distractions when supervising children around water.
  • If you have a pool, secure it with appropriate barriers.
  • If a child is missing, check the water first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability.
  • Weak or inexperienced swimmers should wear U. S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets anytime they're around water.
  • Know how to respond to an emergency (including lifesaving CPR skills), how to tell if a swimmer is in distress or is drowning, and how and when to call for emergency help.
  • If you have a pool or hot tub, keep lifesaving gear handy. Always have on hand a ring buoy, life jackets, rope, pole or other object that can be used to help a person in trouble. Be sure to have a first aid kit, cordless phone and emergency contact information by the pool.

Grill up those goodies safely
Always supervise a barbecue grill when in use. Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals have already been ignited. And keep the grill out in the open, away from the house, the deck, tree branches, or anything that could catch fire. That means you should not be grilling in your house, camper, tent or any enclosed area.

While you’re mastering the art of the perfectly cooked steak, make sure everyone else, including the pets, stays away from the grill. Finally, keep yourself safe by using the long-handled tools especially made for cooking on the grill.

Courtesy of the Poison Control Center
  • Thaw meat, poultry and seafood in the refrigerator or microwave oven. Do not thaw on
the counter at room temperature. 
  • Marinate food in the refrigerator, not on the counter. Don’t use sauce that was used to
marinate raw meat or poultry on cooked food. Boil used marinade or reserve a portion of
the unused marinade to use as a sauce. 
  • Use a meat thermometer to make sure meats and poultry are cooked properly. 
  • Always wash your hands with warm, soapy water before and after handling food. 
  • When taking cooked food off the grill, do not put it on the same plate that held raw food. 
  • Keep hot food hot and cold foods cold. Do not allow either to be out at room temperature
longer than two hours. When in doubt, throw it out.

  • Soap up the BBQ. Be sure to scrub the grill, outdoor utensils, coolers and other containers with hot soapy water before cooking or packing up your favorite summertime treats.
  • Remember the kitchen sink. Your backyard can become an additional room in your house during the summer months with everything but…the kitchen sink. Devise a plan ahead of time so you are able to wash your hands before, during and after handling foods outside. The best way to wash your hands is in warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds. Keep a bottle of hand sanitizer near your grill or pack moist towelettes in your cooler for those moments when soap and water are not readily available.
  • Dishtowel disaster. A man with an apron on and a dishtowel thrown over his shoulder is often the image of grilling expertise but there is definitely a barbecue blunder in this picture. Using the same dishtowel over and over to wipe your hands and clean up spills at the grill can spread harmful bacteria. Stick to paper towels or wipes to clean up spills and save the dishtowels for drying clean dishes and hands.
  • Separate treats for backyard feasts. Cross contamination tops the list of food safety concerns during the outdoor grilling season. Keep raw meats and ready-to-eat foods separate. Pack extra plates and utensils to handle raw foods and another set for cooked foods, to prevent cross-contamination. Wash utensils in warm, soapy water between uses.
  • Baste for taste. The same rule of separation also applies when marinating meats. Using the same brush to baste both raw and cooked meats is a potentially dangerous pitfall. Always use a separate or just-washed brush to marinate raw and cooked meats, and remember to boil any leftover marinade before using it to season cooked meats.
  • The summer tool of choice: a food thermometer. Forget the lawnmower or Weedwacker and make a food thermometer your go-to tool this summer. Relying on color alone or waiting for the juices to run clear to ensure the doneness of meat is a common barbecue blunder. A food thermometer is the only way to ensure food has been cooked to the proper temperature. Favorites like steak should be cooked to at least 145°F and hamburgers should be cooked to at least 160°F, while chicken should be cooked to at least 165°F.
  • Keep it cool. Stock coolers with plenty of ice and/or ice packs to keep foods at temperatures below 40°F. Put a refrigerator thermometer in your cooler to make sure foods are stored at proper temperatures. Transport foods in the air-conditioned back seat of your car instead of the hot trunk. Once at your outdoor dining destination, try to keep foods in the shade and out to of direct sunlight.
  • Remember the two- or one-hour rule. As temperatures go up, the amount of time perishable foods can remain out of refrigeration goes down. While foods typically follow the two-hour rule, in hot weather (90°F or above) this time is cut in half to one hour. At your next outdoor event, remember to keep foods on ice: fill a kiddy pool or over-sized cooler with ice and drop in sealed containers of favorites such as potato salad and dips. Consider setting a kitchen timer or the alarm on your cell phone to remind you when food should be refrigerated. Also keep a refrigerator thermometer on hand to make sure foods stay chilled below 40°F.

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