National Picnic Month takes place each July. It’s a good time to pick up your dad, meet your family at a state park or beach, and enjoy a day of picnic foods, sunny weather, and activities in the fresh air. Picnics are meant to be fun, social events. You can’t ignore safety, however. Your dad is more susceptible to food poisoning than others, so you have to make sure you’re keeping him safe. Before you schedule your picnic, make sure you and your elder care provider are keeping food safety tips in mind.
Bring Four Coolers
One of the easiest ways to keep foods from spoiling is by making sure everything is packed with plenty of ice. When you’re packing picnic foods, you want four coolers:
1. Fill the first with ice packs or sealed bags of ice. You want to put any cold salads on top of the ice and cover those sealed food containers with more ice.
2. Pack the second with loose ice and bring plenty of drinks. You don’t want your dad to become dehydrated, so he needs to have water, seltzer, fruit juice, and unsweetened ice tea available.
3. Fill the third cooler with ice packs and any meats or protein items. If you’re making or bringing salads, you want them to be kept cold with sealed ice packs. If you’re grilling chicken, steaks, burgers, or hot dogs, the meat must be kept cold. You’ll also want a meat thermometer if you’re grilling.
4. Finally, the fourth cooler is filled with non-perishable items like rolls, tortilla chips, granola bars, potato chips, and fresh fruit. You’ll also want plates, cutlery, and cups to go into this cooler.
You also want to bring a bag that has your sunscreen, bug spray, and wipes. Consider bringing a bottle of hand sanitizer, too. You’ll be able to sterilize your hands after handling raw meats and eating your meal.
Keep Salads in the Cooler
Once people have taken servings of pasta or potato salads, put them back in the cooler. The longer they’re in the warm air, the higher the odds of bacteria starting to grow.
Cook Meats to the Right Temperature
Meats must be grilled to the proper temperature. The USDA recommends cooking hamburgers and hot dogs to 155 F. Poultry and turkey burgers need to reach at least 165 F. Steaks, fish, and pork chops or ribs have to reach 145 F.
Once you’ve cooked the meat items, serve them immediately. Try not to make too many leftovers. If there are any, put them on ice within two hours of cooking them.
Is It Time for Elder Care?
National Picnic Month is a great time to join others in the family for fun activities. It’s also a good time to evaluate your dad’s mobility and stamina. Is he having a hard time keeping up with others? Is he struggling to walk around, get to the bathroom unaided, or get his meal?
If you’re noticing signs of his age starting to impact his ability to take care of himself, it’s time to talk about elder care. He can have caregivers helping with housework, meal preparation, laundry, transportation, and so much more. Call an elder care advisor to learn more about prices and services.