Baylor College of Medicine

photo of a grill cover in meat and veggies

Memorial Day safety tips

Taylor Barnes


Houston, TX -

Many will gather to commemorate Memorial Day by spending time with family and friends, grilling, hanging by the pool or participating in other outdoor activities. No matter how you plan to spend the holiday, Baylor College of Medicine physicians provide tips on how to enjoy the day safely.

Stay hydrated

Dr. Mike Ren, a primary care physician and associate professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine, explains that properly hydrating before and after being outdoors can help prevent dehydration. 

“A good rule of thumb is to drink water regularly throughout the day, aiming for 12 or more cups; when in the heat, drink one cup (eight ounces) of water roughly every 20 minutes,” Ren said.

Limit alcohol and sugary drinks, as they can contribute to dehydration. 

“Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it increases urine production and can lead to fluid loss. On the other hand, sugary drinks can cause spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels,” Ren said. “Prioritizing water consumption is crucial for maintaining proper hydration levels. If you want to add a little flavor, low or zero-sugar electrolyte powders and supplements can be a good alternative.”

Protect your skin  

In addition to staying hydrated, it is also essential to protect your skin from the sun. Sunscreen is a necessity. 

Dr. John Wolf, professor in the Department of Dermatology, recommends wearing sunscreen with at least an SPF of 30, and an SPF of 50 when participating in intense outdoor activities. It should also provide a broad spectrum of protection against UVA and UVB rays. For best practice, reapply sunscreen every two hours. 

To prevent bug bites or stings, he advises using topical agents that include 20% to 30% DEET or picaridin and wearing protective clothing with long sleeves and pants. 

“Colorful clothing may attract insects. Avoid wearing strong perfumes and wooded areas and those with standing water that are likely to harbor mosquitoes and other insects,” said Wolf. 

Grill safely  

Memorial Day weekend might be the first time many have fired up their grill this year. For this reason, Dr. Sara Andrabi, assistant professor in the Henry J.N. Taub Department of Emergency Medicine, says to first ensure that the grill you are using has been cleaned from the previous use. It should also be assembled correctly according to its instructions to prevent accidents or malfunctions. 

“Location wise, make sure your grill is on a flat, stable surface and is away from buildings, decks or overhanging branches. Have a fire extinguisher ready, just in case,” she said. 

Never leave your grill unattended around children and pets, and always wear non-flammable clothes. Avoid loose clothing and wear mitts when handling hot food to avoid burns.

For the food you eat on the grill, ensure that if it is frozen, it is thawed safely in the refrigerator. 

“When frozen food gets warmer or is at room temperature for more than a few hours, it’s in the danger zone where bacteria can multiply very quickly,” Andrabi said. “If you store raw meats in the refrigerator, store them away from other foods to prevent cross-contamination. Once grilled, use a food thermometer to know that your meats have reached the appropriate temperature.” 

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