The first ray of spring sunshine is just a tease of what’s to come: Summer! And with summer comes seemingly endless ways to enjoy the great outdoors.
For that reason, you’ll probably be invited to your fair share of summer barbecues and parties — you might even host a few of your own. This year, you can ensure that your parties are equal parts safe and fun by following these five safety tips.
Taking each one into consideration will allow you to celebrate the season responsibly, whether you’re partying at your place or at a friend’s. You’ll see that a few small tweaks to the setup and execution are all it takes.
Heat What’s Hot, Cool What’s Not
The summer sun inspires so many of us to enjoy our meals outdoors, which is a great idea — until the heat starts to affect the temperature of your food. It can warm up your cold foods to the point where they’re no longer safe to eat — especially things like raw meat waiting to hit the grill.
In order to work against the sun’s powerful rays, keep your almost-ready-to-grill meats on a counter inside of your home or over ice until they’re ready to be cooked. To make your job easier, always be mindful of the 40/140 rule, which states that cold foods should be kept at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower while hot foods should be kept at 140 degrees or higher.
Step Away From the Flames
Another highlight of any summer party is its inclusion of fire. A nice flame can char hotdogs, turn cold marshmallows into gooey s’more filling and serve as the backdrop for some pretty intense ghost stories.
No matter how alluring your bonfire may be, though, there are lots of safety tips to take into consideration prior to striking the match. Leave seven feet of space between your fire pit and anything permanent, such as fencing, housing or trees. That way, you and your guests can walk comfortably around the blaze and pull up chairs without feeling too cramped or close to the fire.
Keep It Clean
A big summer party calls for a big menu, which means you might spend a good amount of time in the kitchen as you prep and cook everything. As such, it’s your duty to maintain a workspace that’s clean and sanitary, no matter how far along you are in the cooking process.
It’s very easy to let dishes pile and leave counters dirty until the end of the recipe, after all. This attitude could lead you to cross-contaminating your food if you prep everything on the same unclean counters, though. This summer, be vigilant about your cleaning between steps and recipes in order to ensure that each dish turns out just as it should: Healthy — at least as far as germs are concerned. Calories are another story!
Be Wise With Booze
Restaurants and bars have plenty of ways to ensure they’re serving alcohol responsibly to their customers, no matter how much of a profit they’re trying to turn. You can take many of their methods into consideration if you’re hosting a grown-up party this summer.
Aside from serving only those who are of-age, you should use your best judgment when pouring drinks for those around you. If they seem beyond buzzed already, then it’s probably in everyone’s best interest to stop serving them alcohol. Of course, you can still provide them with snacks, water and a safe alternative to driving home. Sleepover, anyone?
Because alcohol has a tendency to work as a diuretic, it’s also possible that drinking and attending outdoor summer parties and festivals in the heat might cause you to suffer from dehydration. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to stave off or prevent dehydration, including going one-for-one — meaning one glass of water and one alcoholic beverage — all night long. Find the best hydration method for you and stick to it in order to stay healthy, even while indulging responsibly.
If all of this feels like it’s too much, then make things easier on yourself by staying sober as you host your next event. Sure, it sounds pretty boring, but being in complete control mentally will ensure that you’re making good decisions for yourself and for the rest of your party-goers. That means everyone will likely be safer and happier, since you’re attending to them without any booze clouding your judgment.
Now, that’s a great party host!