N.Y. (WETM) — Memorial Day Weekend marks the official start of summer and the first time many New Yorkers will gather outside for the season. To make sure everyone stays safe this weekend, the New York State Department of Health released some safety tips.

“As we reflect on the tremendous sacrifices our military families have made, including those who gave their life in service to our country, we want to make sure the holiday is a safe one that doesn’t end with preventable illnesses,” said Acting State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald.

The Department of Health starts its safety tips by reminding everyone how to properly handle raw meat to avoid spreading illnesses at barbeques and potlucks. When you buy meat, make sure you place it in one of the plastic bags provided by the grocery store to prevent juices from leaking onto your other food. As soon as you get home, refrigerate meat and any other items that could spoil right away. Meat should only be left out for the amount of time it takes to be prepared. If you’re marinating meat or seafood for your barbeque, make sure to leave it in the fridge so it doesn’t spoil.

When you start cooking, it’s important to avoid contaminating cooked foods with germs from raw meat. Marinades cannot be reused after coming into contact with raw meat. Clean utensils should be used after meat has finished cooking, and cutting boards should be washed right after being used for raw meat or seafood. Ready-to-eat food should never touch the same surface raw meat or seafood touched.

While standing outside at the grill or having fun by the water, make sure to protect yourself and your kids from the sun’s harmful rays. People of all skin tones should follow the Department of Health’s sun safety guide to avoid melanoma, sun poisoning, and other harmful effects from the sun. The guide recommends staying in the shade as much as possible from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. when the sun’s rays are the strongest. When you aren’t in the shade, you should cover up with long sleeves, pants, and a wide-brimmed hat. Any exposed skin should be covered in sunscreen with at least SPF 15. Remember, sunscreen needs to be reapplied every two hours and sooner if you’re swimming or sweating.

The sun isn’t the only hazard the outdoors offers during the summer. Ticks and mosquitos are out in full force this time of year and can infect people with illnesses like Lyme disease and West Nile Virus. Outdoor activities that bring you closer to grassy and wooded areas increase your risk of being bitten by ticks and mosquitos. Covering up with long sleeves and pants and using insect repellant helps prevent bug bites. Keeping long hair tied back prevents ticks from stowing away in your hair.

To make sure ticks aren’t hiding on you, you should perform multiple full-body tick checks throughout the day. Showering after coming inside for the day is a great opportunity to check for ticks and wash off any that might be sitting on you unattached. Tossing your clothes in the dryer on high heat for 10 minutes (longer if they’re wet) will kill any ticks hiding out on your clothes.

Even if you aren’t hanging out in areas with ticks, it’s likely mosquitos will still be an annoyance. To prevent mosquito populations from building up in your backyard, make sure you empty and scrub any outdoor container that could hold water at least once a week. This includes bird baths, kiddie pools, pet dishes, buckets, planters, and more. Screens on your doors and windows will help stop mosquitoes from becoming an issue inside your house.

Make sure you follow these tips this weekend and for the rest of the season to have a safe and fun summer.