So many of us are BBQ-ing and spending a lot of time outside this summer (especially on the 4th of July and Labor Day). I compiled some ways you can keep you and your kiddos safe during these events to keep them from going from fun to frustrating!
1) Be safe in the sun! The American Academy of Dermatology recommends applying a generous amount of sunscreen at least 15 minutes before going into the sun in order to give your skin time to absorb the protection. Reapplication is always the hardest part to remember. Follow the directions on your sunscreen bottle, and ensure that if you get wet or are sweating, you apply a new coat every 2 hours. Also, don’t forget sunglasses, SPF lip balm, and hats for the whole family!
2) Watch the water! Even the shallowest pools of water can attract and drown little kiddos. To prevent this from happening, ensure your attractive water play area is enclosed with a dog fence, baby fence, or something else; teach your child about how dangerous water can be (even if they don’t completely receive it at their young age, it doesn’t hurt to start engraining it in their heads now); and keep a close eye on your little tykes.
3) Bugs galore! Protect yourself and your loved ones from bugs by using bug spray (there are bug sprays that are “safe” for babies all over the Internet–there are also recipes you can use to make it yourself). Also, avoid going outside from dusk to dawn, which is when mosquitos will use you as their midnight snack. However, ticks are feeding at all hours. If you are in an area where ticks are prevalent, protect yourself with repellant and ensure you are frequently checking yourself for attached ticks (including a full-body search when you get home). Click here the Center for Disease Control’s instructions on how to remove ticks.
4) Dirty another plate! Ensure that whoever is grilling uses one plate for raw meat, and a separate one for cooked so no one ends up runnnnning home!
5) Leave the potato salad at home! Although potato salad is popular at outdoor events, potatoes can spoil very quickly, causing salmonella or E. Coli (the potatoes are more dangerous than the mayonnaise)! Either bring the salad out right before serving and put them back in the refrigerator shortly afterward, place your potato salad bowl in a larger bowl with ice or ice packs between the two bowls, or make something else for lunch (perhaps something healthier?) The website, Peace of Mind Through Preparedness shares their recipe for Potato Salad that includes Apple Cider Vinegar, changing the pH of the potatoes, still making them tasty, and also increasing their safety!
6) Follow Guidelines for BBQ Safety!
a) Park your BBQ in a well-ventilated area with no dry brush around to keep your guests’ lungs clean and your guests and dry vegetation safe from sparks.
b) Have a fire extinguisher nearby.
c) Keep only designated grillers near the grill, and ensure all kids know the rules. You can even make a safety perimeter around the grill using colored tape.
d) Avoid burns by using long-handled utensils when turning meat and fire-retardent mitts when adjusting vents.
e) Use a meat thermometer to ensure your meat is cooked well enough to prevent illness!
f) Find many more tips here.
7) Stay hydrated! It’s easy to forget water when you are enjoying your adult beverages, but don’t forget your water! You might not feel the effects of dehydration at the party, but you will eventually feel them. To ensure you leave the party feeling great, you can either have a bottle of water between each alcoholic beverage, or you can sip water with your chosen poison. Remember the kiddos, too! They will be having so much fun in the sun that they will forget to ask for water. Avoid sugary juice, and ensure you don’t let milk sit out for longer than an hour.
8) Wear earplugs! It’s always interesting to see how many people are concerned that they won’t look “cool” if they wear earplugs or plug their ears when in a noisy situation (concert, fireworks, a festival with live music, at a gun range, etc.) Your hearing is precious and will NEVER get better — it will only deteriorate. Wearing whole-ear protection or ear plugs will make it so you might not have to wear hearing aids in the future. Protect your kids, too! Here are a few brands of baby and kid ear protection.
Most of all, enjoy your days in the sun! For some of us, they are much too short.
American Academy of Dermatology: Sunscreen FAQs
NBC News: 10 Riskiest Foods in America
Hearth, Patio, and BBQ Association: General Grilling Safety
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Spring and Summer Outdoor Safety