Kelsey Christian, health educator with the Florida Department of Health, and spokesperson Ryan Terry demonstrate safe food handling tips for summer.

’Tis the season for fun backyard cookouts, barbecues, pool time and more, but nothing stops a fun gathering in its tracks like an unintentional fire or spreading salmonella to your guests due to unsafe handling practices.

To give some tips for the summer, Hillsborough County Fire Rescue (HCFR) partnered with Florida Department of Health officials to host an open house at Fire Station 16 in Riverview to make sure residents are ready for safe summer fun.

HCFR lead fire investigator David Tucker said, “We see injuries that occur each year when families shoot off fireworks. We recommend everyone to have access to a bucket or a trash can filled with water to fully extinguish the firework after shooting it.”

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), 64 percent of American households have a gas grill, and grill fires are most common in July. Unfortunately, grill-related accidents are common. In a typical year, more than 10,000 fires are started by grills, and 19,000 people are hospitalized because of mishaps involving grills. If you’re grilling outdoors, HCFR has some tips on keeping your family and home safe.

HCFR public education specialist Jim Schmidt, who also wants families to be careful with their gas grills, said, “Make sure your grill is clean, safe, no leaks in the propane hoses and do not keep your grill under a covered roof.”

On the food side, the Florida Department of Health wants to remind people that cooked food should not be left out on a table for more than one hour to avoid the growth of foodborne germs.

“People think food safety is complicated,” said health educator Kelsey Christian, “but it’s very simple and a few extra minutes may stop you from becoming sick.”

Washing hands and utensils, keeping raw meat separate from vegetables, making sure to cook foods thoroughly, keeping perishable food in the refrigerator with a temperature of 40 degrees or below and not thawing foods on the counter are some of the top recommendations from the health department.

For more health safety tips, visit

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Marie is the Managing Editor at the Osprey Observer. She covers news, transportation, education and likes to make a positive impact on the community and be 'in the know'!