Friday, July 3, 2015

Independence Day Weekend BBQing: Don't Leave Your Guests with a Bad Feeling in Their Stomach

July 4th Weekend Means Millions of Americans Grilling

Advice to not leave you BBQ guests “illing”.

By Jeffrey D. Kolakowski July 3, 2015  @PhilaOEM

Being considered a “grill master” is a source of pride. Poor grilling can be a source of sickness.

According to the City of Philadelphia Health Department website, roughly one in six Americans, around 48 million people, get sick from food poisoning each year. CDC numbers also say that 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases.

Food poisoning can be contracted by anyone who eats contaminated food which contains viruses, bacteria or other unfavorable ingredients. There is a high risk group, like older adults, pregnant women and those with weaker immune system, who may be more prone to becoming ill and may see more severe reactions to food poisoning.
Since bacteria is not visible to the human eye, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service says the best way to ensure good grilling is to check the internal temperature.

The USDA came up with the acronym PRO to remind grillers of three easy steps to make sure your guests are doubled over in laughter from having a good time rather than doubled over in pain.

Information below from the USDA website

P—Place the Thermometer!
Think your food is ready? Make sure by checking the internal temperature. Find the thickest part of the meat (usually about 1.5 to 2 inches deep), and insert the thermometer. If you’re cooking a thinner piece of meat, like chicken breasts or hamburger patties, insert the thermometer from the side.  Make sure that the probe reaches the center of the meat.

R—Read the Temperature!
Wait about 10 to 20 seconds for an accurate temperature reading.  Use the following safe internal temperature guidelines for your meat and poultry.
·        Beef, Pork, Lamb, & Veal (steaks, roasts, and chops): 145 °F with a 3-minute rest time
·        Ground meats: 160 °F
·        Whole poultry, poultry breasts, & ground poultry: 165 °F 

O—Off the Grill!
Once the meat and poultry reach their safe minimum internal temperatures, take the food off the grill and place it on a clean platter.  Don’t put cooked food on the same platter that held raw meat or poultry.  Also remember to clean your food thermometer probe with hot, soapy water or disposable wipes.

For more information about food poisoning, visit:

To sign up for ReadyPhiladelphia text or email alerts from the Office of Emergency Management, visit

Coming to Philadelphia for the 4th? Come Prepared With a Plan and Know Where You Are in a Crowd

Philadelphia’s Welcome America Finale To Draw Massive Crowds to the Parkway.

New visual grid system will help visitors know where they are.

By Jeffrey D. Kolakowski @PhilaOEM July 3, 2015

Photo: Annie Cipiti/OEM                                                           

Thousands of visitors will travel to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway this Saturday for the daylong Party on the Parkway, Philly 4th of July Jam and fireworks. This year, the "Largest Free Concert in America" features The Roots, with specials guests Miguel and Jennifer Nettles.

The finale to eight days of Philadelphia's Welcome America events has visitors planning who they're going with, how to travel and what to eat. 

But are they truly prepared?

A plan that includes emergency meet-up locations and having an awareness for where you are is important.

collaborative effort between the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Emergency Management, Police, and Fire departments developed a system to help people figure out where they are if help is needed or just to tell someone where to meet up.

Previously, event-goers would describe to friends, family or emergency dispatchers where they were by relying on landmarks, street signs and other visual cues. This proved difficult for callers who were unfamiliar with their surroundings and first-responders dealing with a massive crowd.

To fix this, new reflective metal signs were placed along the Parkway for the July 4th concert on poles by city Streets Department workers from the concert stage, eastbound to 20th street.

The 30 X 30 inch signs contain letters and a number. The letters start alphabetically at the stage and ascend in order towards 20th street. Numbers are odd on the north side of the Parkway and even on the south side.

If someone should need emergency assistance, they dial 911 and the dispatcher will ask them for the nearest grid location.

The system proved successful as a pilot program in 2014 when it was used for July 4th, Made In America and the Philadelphia Marathon.

It is planned to be used for major upcoming events this year which include Made In America and Pope Francis' visit to Philadelphia this year.

The Office of Emergency Management also has a redesigned emergency alert system where people can receive texts and emails if there should be a weather situation or incident they need be aware of. To sign up, visit


Monday, June 15, 2015

Stay Cool This Summer!!

Summer is right around the corner, but it's already hot out! Be prepared for more heat and humidity with these Stay Cool Tips from the Philadelphia Department of Public Health:

· Stay out of the sun. When in the sun, wear sunscreen (at least SPF 15).

· Avoid working or playing in the hot sun or other hot areas between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

· To prevent sunburn, wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothes that cover as much skin as possible.

· Use drapes, shades, louvers or awnings in your home. (Outdoor awnings or louvers can reduce the heat that enters the home by up to 80 percent.)

· Wear a wide-brimmed hat or visor, or use an umbrella for shade.

· Slow down. Rest in the shade or a cool place every chance you get.

· Drink plenty of water. Avoid alcohol and caffeine.

· Maintain a normal diet.

· Use air conditioners and fans. If you use a fan, make sure your windows are open to release trapped hot air.

· Visit a friend with air conditioning or go someplace cool like a mall, library, or senior center.

· Take a cool shower or bath.

· Read your medication labels. Some medications can cause an adverse reaction in hot weather. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you need more information.

· Never leave children, pets, or those who require special care in a parked car during periods of intense summer heat.

For more information on how to beat the heat this summer and for a list of cooling locations and pools, visit the OEM Excessive Heat page here:

and the Philadelphia Health Department's Website here:  

Friday, May 22, 2015

Memorial Day BBQ Safety Tips

The Philadelphia OEM wants to wish everybody a happy and safe holiday. Many Memorial Day Weekend celebrations include a tasty barbecue, so be sure to stay safe around the grill. Follow these safety tips from the Philadelphia Fire Department.

BBQ Grill Safety Tips:

  • Propane and charcoal grills must only be used outdoors. If used indoors, or in any enclosed spaces such as tents, they pose a fire hazard and a risk of exposing occupants to deadly carbon monoxide.
  • When in use, grills should be at least 15 feet from any structure and at least 3 feet from any combustible materials.
  • When purchasing a grill, select one that bears the approval mark of an independent testing laboratory.
  • Make a thorough inspection of the grill before each use. For propane grills, pay particular attention to connections and hoses. Look for cracking, brittleness, holes and leaks.
  • Replace any damaged or corroded propane tanks.
  • Never store spare propane cylinders under or near a grill or inside the home.
  • Always store propane cylinders upright.
  • Do not transport propane cylinders in the trunk of a passenger vehicle.
  • Children should never be allowed to start outdoor cooking equipment.
  • Allow lighter fluid to penetrate charcoals for 5-10 minutes before lighting, this creates a smaller, controlled flame.
  • Once a fire has been started, never add starter fluid. Fire may follow the stream of fluid back to the container, causing an explosion and scattering flaming liquid.
  • Never use gasoline to start your fire.
  • Keep a small spray can of water handy to douse flaming grease.
  • Do not wear loose fitting clothing while cooking.
  • Always turn off valves when not in use.
  • Use caution in disposing of the ashes. Ashes may contain live coals, which can start a fire. The safest method is to wet ashes thoroughly with water before emptying the grill.
  • Also check the expiration date on your propane cylinder, tanks are only good for 12 years from the date of manufacture.