DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – With Memorial Day weekend marking the unofficial start to summer, health and safety experts are sharing reminders for food and grilling best practices.

Dr. Jordan Knox with Kettering Health Springfield said when at an outdoor picnic, there’s no kitchen around, which leads to challenges with cleaning, cooking and chilling.

“That’s really because the germs that cause food poisoning multiply the fastest between 40 degrees and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, which is pretty much our usual environment there over the summer,” Knox said.

Knox said always wash your hands before handling food. If soap and water is not available, use hand sanitizer.

Having enough serving tools available prevents cross-contamination between raw meat and cooked foods. He says you should use a food thermometer to make sure food is heated to the proper temperature, and don’t leave food sitting out more than one to two hours.

“Our major food safety organizations actually say if it’s 90 degrees or hotter out, that there’s really only a one hour window before food should be put in refrigeration,” Knox said.

Before you fire up the grill, there are steps you can take to prevent a visit from the fire department.

“From time to time we may have incidents related to grills, but we want to prevent those fires from ever occurring to begin with,” Cpt. Brad French, public information officer for the Dayton Fire Department, said.

French said before using a grill, check the connections and that it is working properly, always keep a fire extinguisher nearby, clean the grill after you’re done and leave plenty of space around it.

“Just like space heaters in the wintertime, in the summertime, grills need space,” French said. “About three feet safety area around that grill at all times is really what’s recommended.”

If you plan to end the night with a fireworks show, French said the safest way is by leaving it to the professionals.

“There are thousands of injuries across the country every year as it relates to home fireworks,” French said. “Leave it to the pros. Go find out where the local fireworks show is in your own town and make sure you go attend that instead of trying to do something unsafe at home.”

French said to also check with your municipality to see if firing off fireworks is permitted. Fireworks are prohibited in the City of Dayton.