This July 4th may be even more special than usual for a lot of families. Besides the excitement and patriotic fervor of celebrating our country’s official Independence Day, it may finally stop raining long enough for people to enjoy being outside.
However the day unfolds, you can bet there will be plenty of families and friends celebrating with good food!
Grilling is particularly popular on the Fourth as well as picnics. To make sure that the food you prepare is safe and stays safe for consumption, the USDA and the FDA offers these food preparation tips:
• Clean: Make sure you clean all surfaces, utensils, and hands with soap and water.
• Separate: When grilling, use separate plates and utensils for raw meat and cooked meat and ready-to-eat foods (like raw vegetables) to avoid cross-contamination.
• Keep cold food cold. Place cold food in a cooler with ice or frozen gel packs. Cold food should be stored at 40°F or below to prevent bacterial growth. Meat, poultry, and seafood may be packed while still frozen so that they stay colder longer.
• Organize cooler contents. Consider packing beverages in one cooler and perishable foods in another. That way, as picnickers open and reopen the beverage cooler to replenish their drinks, the perishable foods won’t be exposed to warm outdoor air temperatures.
• Clean your produce. Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under running tap water before packing them in the cooler - including those with skins and rinds that are not eaten. Rub firm-skinned fruits and vegetables under running tap water or scrub with a clean vegetable brush while rinsing with running tap water. Dry fruits and vegetables with a clean cloth towel or paper towel. Packaged fruits and vegetables that are labeled "ready-to-eat," "washed," or "triple washed" need not be washed.
• Cook: Cook foods to the right temperature by using a food thermometer. That’s the only way to know it’s a safe temperature.
• Remember: Ground beef and egg dishes should be cooked to 160°F. Steaks, roasts, pork and fish should be cooked to 145 degrees F, and Chicken breast and whole poultry should be cooked to 165 degrees F. Shrimp, lobster, and crabs cook until pearly and opaque. Clams, oysters, and mussels cook until the shells are open
• Chill: Chill raw and prepared foods promptly if not consuming after cooking. You shouldn’t leave food at room temperature for longer than two hours (or 1 hour if outdoor temperatures are above 90° F), so if you’re away from home, make sure you bring a cooler to store those leftovers.
Warm weather events present opportunities for foodborne bacteria to thrive. As food heats up in summer temperatures, bacteria multiply rapidly. Safe food handling and cooking when eating outdoors is critical for your family’s health.
Most cities have banned fireworks within the city limits except for controlled displays. However, rural and unincorporated areas still allow the sale and use of fireworks by citizens.
Fireworks are now much more sophisticated and larger than mere firecrackers and sparklers; injuries associated with fireworks can be devestating.
In 2013, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 11,400 people for fireworks related injuries; 55% of 2014 emergency room fireworks-related injuries were to the extremities and 38% were to the head. The risk of fireworks injury was highest for young people ages 0-4, followed by children 10-14.
On Independence Day in a typical year, far more U.S. fires are reported than on any other day, and fireworks account for two out of five of those fires, more than any other cause of fires.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends these fireworks handling safety tips:
• Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
• Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper because this is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and that they could pose a danger to consumers.
• Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities. Parents don't realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees - hot enough to melt some metals.
• Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
• Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.
• Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
• Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
• Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.
• Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
• After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.
• Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.
The Fourth of July is definitely one of the most treasured holidays for Americans, make sure your family has a safe one!