If ever there was a time to picnic outdoors, it’s now. Picnicking allows you to get outside and enjoy summer while still maintaining social distancing. Being outdoors is good for your mental well-being. Protect your physical well-being with these safety tips:
Create a safe outdoor dining environment during COVID-19
- Check in advance to determine if park and/or restroom facilities are open
- Avoid crowds by picnicking at less popular times or locations
- Remove dirt from hands with single use wipes, then use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, allowing it to dry before eating
- Wear a face covering if you cannot maintain 6 feet of separation from non-household members
- Consider using a tablecloth on public picnic tables
- Try activities other than the playground such as card games, I spy, red light/green light, or four square.
Food safety practices for hot summer days
- Wash and pre-chill your cooler before packing picnic food
- Pack cooler with 25% ice/cold packs and 75% food
- Store food in double plastic bags or containers with tight fitting lids to prevent leaking
- Place raw meat on the bottom of the cooler
- Ideally, use one cooler for ready-to-eat foods and one for foods that need to be cooked
- Pack enough utensils to avoid cross contamination between raw and ready to eat foods or “double-dipping”
- Keep cooler in the shade or cover with a wet cloth
- If food is served family style, limit time out to 2 hours if outdoor temperature below 90 degrees F, 1 hour if over 90 degrees F. Set a timer or use masking tape stuck to container noting “time out and time to toss”.
- Pack food in (multiple) small containers to reduce leftovers
Most importantly, do not eat food left in the temperature danger zone beyond recommended times; bacteria multiply very quickly & can make you sick. Some people are at greater risk for foodborne illness. A healthy young adult may not become sick whereas children, elderly, those with compromised immune systems or those living with chronic disease could become very ill.