This warmer weather has us craving the outdoors more than ever, but despite the sunshine coming out, we need to remember this is a crucial time to continue being smart and safe

With restrictions easing up a bit, a lot of people are asking if there’s a way to safely gather with a small group of friends to share food. The answer, luckily, is yes!

At Copeman Healthcare, we recommend these six tips to have a safe picnic with friends...

1. Wash your hands

By now, we’ve heard it a million times—but washing your hands is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Whether you’re preparing food for yourself or for a group of friends, always make sure to wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water before you touch any food, before you eat, and after handling food packaging (including groceries and takeout). As we remain extra vigilant right now, we also recommend bringing a portable hand sanitizer with you as an extra precaution to use before you eat, and before and after you touch anything you plan on sharing.

2. Sanitize those surfaces

This applies at all times, but especially when cooking for others. To ensure everyone stays safe, sanitize all prep surfaces with disinfectant before preparing food. It’s also super important to wash produce with cold water or buy pre-washed produce to be sure everything is as clean as can be.

3. Cooking is cleaning

The good news is coronaviruses can be killed by cooking foods to the appropriate internal temperatures! When planning snacks for you and your friends, try out some cooked dishes to help reduce the risk.

4. Maintain social distancing

We know it’s getting harder and harder to stay apart, but maintaining social distancing is extremely important right now while we slowly start to relax restrictions. If you’re joining friends in a public space, be sure to keep that six-foot gap between one another. Whether you’re setting up a large circle of lawn chairs in the park or gathering in a parking lot for a tailgate get-together, keeping that distance and avoiding common greetings like handshakes and hugs will help keep everyone safe.

5. Avoid touching your face (and don't bite those nails!)

Getting back outside can feel like we’re back to normal again, but it’s important to remember that we still need to avoid touching our faces. It can be easy to forget, especially when we’re outside and something as simple as wind can cause an itch, but it’s important to avoid touching your face, eyes, mouth and nose as much as possible when around others. Another sneaky culprit is biting your nails. Think of this time as a great way to break that habit, as nail-biting has become a much higher risk than it used to be.

6. BYO-Everything!

The risk of infection increases the more people touch one surface. To help keep your risk low, be sure to bring your own picnic items with you. Bringing your own chair helps keep you a safe distance from your fellow picnic-ers and if you have to borrow a chair, make sure you sanitize it before and after using it. Bringing your own utensils is another great way to reduce the risks. Most importantly, don’t forget to bring tissues with you. Having a tissue on hand will be ideal to cover any coughing or sneezing with. No tissue? No biggie, use the bend of your arm instead of your hands!

The good news? Currently, according to CDC and the FDA, there’s no evidence supporting the transmission of coronavirus through food. This virus is generally thought to spread from person to person through respiratory droplets. I hope this helps have a safe and anxiety-free picnic!

These tips have been shared by Beth Nanson, Registered Dietician with Copeman Healthcare Centre