With warm weather comes lots of chances to enjoy the outdoors.
However safety experts urge consumers to take precautions when the outdoors is being used for food preparation.
The rule has long been to discard perishable foods that have remained at room temperature for two or more hours.
Outdoors in hot weather, however, the two-hour rule shrinks to one hour, according to information from Kansas State University Research and Extension.
“This shorter time frame applies to such perishable foods as meat or poultry sandwiches and salad. It applies when foods are left in direct sunlight or are outside when the temperature is 90 degrees or above.
Outdoor food safety tips include:
• Keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot.
• Avoid cross contamination. Keep raw foods separate from cooked foods.
• Use a food thermometer to test doneness on grilled meats and poultry. Grill hamburgers to 160 degrees F and chicken to 165 F.
• Wash hands frequently with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds, including before and after eating and after handling raw and cooked foods, after using the restroom, petting a dog or cat, etc. If water is unavailable, use a hand sanitizer product.
When food is being prepared outdoors, there are other risks, besides the food itself and safety precautions should be taken with outdoor grills, too.
The following tips from the National Fire Data Center:
• Before using a grill, check the connection between the propane tank and the fuel line.
Make sure the venturi tubes — where the air and gas mix — are not blocked.
Believe it or not, spiders sometimes like to build webs in venturi tubes, blocking the air flow and making it impossible for the grill burner to light.
• Do not overfill the propane tank.
• Do not wear loose clothing while cooking at a barbecue.
• Be careful when using lighter fluid.
Do not add fluid to an already-lit fire because the flame can flash back up into the container and explode.
• Keep all matches and lighters away from children.
Teach children to report any loose matches or lighters to an adult immediately. Supervise children around outdoor grills.
• Dispose of hot coals properly — douse them with plenty of water, and stir them to ensure that the fire is out.
Never place them in plastic, paper or wooden containers.
• Never grill in enclosed areas — carbon monoxide could be produced.
If you move the grill into a garage in wet weather, make sure the doors are left open and the area is well ventilated.
• Make sure everyone knows to “stop, drop and roll” in case a piece of clothing does catch fire.
Call 911 or your local emergency number if a burn warrants serious medical attention.
Campfires should be safe, too:
• Build campfires where they will not spread, away from dry grass and leaves.
• Keep campfires small, and don’t let them get out of hand.
• Keep plenty of water and a shovel around to douse the fire when done. Stir it and douse it again with water.
• Never leave campfires unattended