Wednesday, August 13, 2008
7 Must-Haves for a Pleasant Family Picnic
By Grace Chen
Summer is a great time for picnics! The weather is nice, the kids are out of school, and many of the picnic-friendly foods such as fresh fruits and veggies are in season. However, in order to keep you and your family safe, there is more to consider than what lunch items to pack. Here is a look at what else should be going into your picnic basket.
- Soap or Sanitizer: If you are having an outdoor picnic, then there is a good chance that you are doing other outdoor activities as well. Of course, this makes you a prime target for dirt and germs. Depending on where you are picnicking, you may or may not have access to well-stocked restroom facilities where you can wash up. It is a good idea to take along an extra bar of soap in case the washroom is out, as well as some hand sanitizer to use during the times that you cannot wash.
- Extra Containers: If you are planning on cooking your food once you arrive at the picnic site, and are therefore bringing along raw meat, make sure that you have plenty of containers. The juices from raw meat can easily cross contaminate ready to eat foods unless they are wrapped separately. You may also want to bring along some empty, clean containers to use to wrap up the leftovers.
- Food Thermometer: Food poisoning is a common side effect of picnics because the foods are either stored or prepared improperly. All meat should be thoroughly cooked to help prevent the risk of food poisoning. A food thermometer will allow you to check the internal temperature of the foods that you have on the grill.
- Plenty of Ice: Just as you have to make sure that hot foods get hot enough, you also need to ensure that cold foods stay cold. Raw meats, cold side dishes, and leftovers will all need to be kept chilled in order to prevent bacteria from growing. Make sure that you have enough loose ice or icepacks to keep food cold until lunch time, as well as extras if you plan on taking leftovers home.
- Extra Water: In the summer time, the heat and the sunlight can make it easy to become dehydrated, and dehydration can become serious if left untreated. Make sure that you have plenty of water with you and stop frequently to take a drink.
- Sun Protection: Unless you are going spelunking, chances are you will be outdoors during your picnic, putting you at the risk of overheating or getting a sunburn. Make sure to bring along enough sunscreen for the entire family, and reapply frequently. It is also a good idea to bring a long a source of shade, such as a large sun umbrella, if you are going to an open area like the beach.
- First Aid Kits: It is also a good idea to have a basic first aid kit in the car for all family outings. This should include alcohol wipes for disinfecting, antibiotic ointment, bandages, sting kits, etc. If you are planning on hiking or doing another outdoor activity that takes you off the beaten path, you may also want to consider taking along a survival first aid kit that includes an emergency supply of food, water, first aid items, an emergency blanket, waterproof matches, etc. so that you are prepared should you get lost.
By planning ahead, you can make sure that your picnic is as safe as it is fun.
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