Food and Firework Safety for the Fourth of July

June 30, 2016

Don’t spend the Fourth of July in the Emergency Department. Brush up on food, grilling and firework safety tips before the biggest holiday of the summer arrives.

Food Preparation Safety

Picnics are a big part of the holiday weekend. But did you know, one in six people get sick annually from the food they eat. To stay healthy, be sure that food is prepared properly and not left out in warm temperatures for extended periods of time.

Here are some tips from Brenda Viens, registered dietitian at Backus Hospital and Thames Valley Council for Community Action:

To learn more, check out her Healthy Living Blog.

CLEAN: Proper hand washing, a clean work area, and clean produce are key factors in the prevention of food-borne illness.

SEPARATE: Always keep raw meat separate from produce and serving plates and utensils. To significantly reduce the risk of cross contamination:

  • Designate a raw-meat only cutting board
  • Color-code so cookware used for raw meat is not used for other items
  • Immediately discard marinades used for raw meat
  • Do not use wooden utensils or bowls because the porous surface can trap potentially harmful bacteria.

COOK: To ensure meat cooks evenly, preheat the grill and create two heat zones. A good tip is to position thicker portions of meat closer to the flame. Do not cook directly over the flame because that will result in a burnt exterior and undercooked interior.

CHILL: All refrigerated foods and raw meat should be kept at or below 40 degrees. Bacteria can begin to multiply when frozen and refrigerated foods are warmer than 40 degrees. Meat should be defrosted in the refrigerator or under cool running water, not on the counter.

Grilling Safety

Let meat rest for 3-5 minutes before determining if it is ready to eat. Insert a food-grade thermometer into the thickest portion for 15 seconds to get a proper temperature reading. If the meat is not done put it back on the grill or in the oven until the optimal temperature is reached.

Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures (°F)

Poultry, whole and ground: 165

Ground meat (excluding poultry): 160

Steaks, roasts, and chops: 145

Fish: 145

Clean your grill with caution. Wire grill brushes are useful tools but wire pieces can break off and become lodged in your food. Be sure to check your grill surface before putting your food down to cook.

On the News:

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Firework Safety

If you are going to put on your own firework show for friends and family this summer be sure to take the proper safety precautions before lighting the fuse.

  • Obey all local laws regarding the use of fireworks.
  • Know your fireworks; read the cautionary labels and performance descriptions before igniting.
  • A responsible adult SHOULD supervise all firework activities.  Never give fireworks to children.
  • Alcohol and fireworks do not mix.  Save your alcohol for after the show.
  • Wear safety glasses when shooting fireworks.
  • Light one firework at a time and then quickly move away.
  • Use fireworks OUTDOORS in a clear area; away from buildings and vehicles.
  • Never relight a “dud” firework.  Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.
  • Always have a bucket of water and charged water hose nearby.
  • Never carry fireworks in your POCKET or shoot them into METAL or GLASS containers.
  • Do not experiment with homemade fireworks.
  • Dispose of spent fireworks by wetting them down and place in a metal trash can away from any building or combustible materials until the next day.
  • FAA regulations PROHIBIT the possession and transportation of fireworks in your checked baggage or carry-on luggage.
  • Report illegal explosives, like M-80s and quarter sticks, to the fire or police department.

For more information, visit

If you do have an emergency over the holiday weekend Hartford HealthCare’s Urgent Care Locations will be open:

Hartford HealthCare Urgent Care Facilities


Primary & Urgent Care
339 West Main Street
Avon, CT 06001
Phone: 860.696.2150


22 Pine Street, Suite 104
Bristol, CT 06010
Phone: 860.584.8291


163 Broadway
Colchester, CT


HHC Primary & Urgent Care
406 Farmington Ave
Farmington, CT 06032
Phone: 860.677.3950


Ledyard Backus Family Health Center
2 Lorenz Parkway
Ledyard, Ct
Phone: 860.464.3104


80 Norwich-New London Tpke
Uncasville CT


Norwichtown Backus Family Health Center
42 Town Street, Norwichtown, Ct
Phone: 860.886.0567

South Windsor

1559 Sullivan Avenue
South Windsor, Connecticut 06074
Phone: 860.696.2350


863 N Main St Ext
Suite 101
Wallingford, CT
Phone: 203.694.5500

West Hartford, Bishop’s Corner

336 North Main Street
West Hartford, CT 06117
Phone: 860.232.4891

West Hartford, South Main

445 South Main Street
West Hartford, CT 06117
Phone: 860.696.2200


1025 Silas Deane Highway
Wethersfield, CT 06109