SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – On 4th of July weekend everyone is looking forward to the fireworks and the food. And as many prepare for their celebrations, it’s important to keep safety at the forefront.

“It’s always a great idea to have an extinguisher handy at all times, but especially if you’re going to be grilling and having parties outside,” Lt. Tony Spear of the West Springfield Fire Department recommends.

Lt. Spear advises to keep all propane outdoors and keep your grills at least 10 feet away from any building to avoid any mulch or brush fires.

22News spoke with Willy Pinero of Springfield about his preparation to keep food safe.

“I follow all of the instructions that the grill has,” said Pinero. “First of all, once I shut it off make sure that it’s really off and if it’s gas, make sure that the gas is closed nice and tight if it’s going to be charcoal or wood, things like that. Make sure that it’s put out.”

When it comes to food prep you can never be too careful. Experts suggest:

  • Before heading outside to grill; make sure to wash your hands before preparing any food
  • Properly store raw meats before grilling to prevent bacteria buildup
  • Avoid cross contamination, do not let other foods touch the same surfaces or utensils
  • Use a food thermometer to make sure the meat is cooked properly
  • Store marinated or pre-seasoned meat in the refrigerator
  • Mass.gov advises you to keep all propane outdoors

“If I’m going to bring meat like chicken, steaks, things like that, keep them cold enough so they don’t go bad and get anyone sick… I don’t want to get sick,” Pinero continued.

As for cold dishes like dips, cold salads or cut fruits, they won’t stay safe on the picnic table all day, store them in a cooler.

“The weather if it gets too hot we have to keep the food from spoiling or whatever you’re supposed to put it in a cool place either the cooler or make sure you cover it,” Samuel Garcia of Holyoke suggests.

And if any leftovers are out in the sun or on the counter for an extended period of time, it might be best to toss it to avoid possible food illness.