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Lighting the grill or packing a picnic basket turns even the simplest summertime meal into a celebration. But too much sunshine and heat can put a damper on your warm-weather festivities. Use these tips to help keep your summer outdoor dining safe and healthy all season.


Plan for Success

A little advance planning and thought can elevate a barbecue or picnic into a celebration of summer that’s both good fun and good for you.

  • Choose foods that won’t melt, wilt or spoil quickly. A menu featuring fresh fruits and vegetables, beans and whole grains are ideal al fresco dining choices.
  • Consider a meatless meal focused on plant proteins that can hold their own despite summer’s higher temperatures. Try using tofu, tempeh, seeds, nuts or beans to create salads and entrées for a hot weather protein boost that doesn’t require refrigeration.
  • If you think you might have leftovers, be prepared with containers, ice and enough cooler space to get your extra food home safely.

Avoid Foodborne Illness 

Don’t let food poisoning or other food-related illnesses spoil your summer fun. 

  • Always wash your hands before cooking or eating. Use hand sanitizer, disposable towelettes or a water jug and soap if you're eating outdoors without water access.
  • Don't cross-contaminate your meal. Keep cooked and raw foods away from each other with separate utensils, cutting boards, plates and serving dishes.
  • Use a thermometer to ensure meat is cooked thoroughly enough to kill any harmful bacteria. Hamburgers should hit 160°F and chicken should reach at least 165°F.
  • Deal with leftovers quickly. Don’t let anything containing meat or dairy products stay unrefrigerated for longer than one hour if the temperature is higher than 90°. 

Always Use Sunscreen

Although you should wear sunscreen every day, applying a liberal coat of protection is essential whenever you're spending time outdoors.

  • Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays.
  • Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher for maximum protection.
  • Use water-resistant sunscreen to remain protected when sweating or swimming. Reapply at least every two hours for high levels of protection throughout the day.


Keep Your Cool

When your summer festivities are going well and you're having fun, it can be easy to stay outside in the heat longer than you should. High temperatures and humidity can increase your chance of heat-related illness if your body temperature hits unhealthy levels. Limit your time outdoors when temperatures become extreme to avoid potentially serious health issues such as dehydration, heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps and heat rash. Don't forget to drink plenty of water.

Get medical help immediately if you experience:

  • Confusion
  • Dizziness, fainting or nausea
  • Dry skin
  • Lack of urination
  • Strong, rapid pulse

Call (866) MY-LI-DOC (866-695-4362) to find a Catholic Health physician near you.

Learn more about the services available at Catholic Health.

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