It's miserable outside. There is an excessive heat warning in Philadelphia and Wednesday promises to be a hot, sticky mess.

But, there are Fourth of July parties, concerts and fireworks, so of course you are going out. If you don't want to miss out on the fun, follow these tips to enjoy the day safely:

Stay hydrated. Water is best. Drink alcohol in moderation.

Know the signs of heat stroke and heat exhaustion. Infants and seniors need to be especially cautious in the sun.

Use caution around fireworks.

Now, let's talk about sun protection. Get too much sun exposure and you put yourself at risk for future skin cancers.

  • Make sure to use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Reapply every two hours and after about 40 minutes of activity or just after swimming.
  • Stay in the shade or create your own with umbrellas or a tent. Plan activities early or late in the day to avoid the sun when it's most intense.
  • Wear hats and other SPF protective clothing to avoid sunburn.

If you're planning a cookout this weekend, avoid picnic dishes or sandwiches with heavy mayo. Pack apples, carrots, granola bars, potato chips or popcorn as snacks. The Pa. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics offers some tips for avoiding the risks of food poisoning at your picnics or cookouts.

Keep raw food separate from ready-to-eat picnic items.
Keep raw food separate from ready-to-eat picnic items.
  • Clean out your cooler, picnic basket or tote bag. These items can be a breeding ground for bacteria.
  • Wash your hands before and after you handle any foods. If water is in short supply bring along hand sanitizer.
  • Keep all raw meats, poultry and seafood separated from ready-to-eat foods such as fruits, vegetables, cheese and desserts.
  • Bring two sets of plates and utensils: one for handling raw meats and one for serving cooked foods.
  • Pack a food thermometer to measure the internal temperature of foods.
  • Keep coolers at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below, in the shade with the lid closed.
  • Add frozen bottles of water or juice boxes in the cooler to pack around the food. They can be a refreshing treat as well.
  • At the end of the party, throw out all perishable food that has not been refrigerated for more than two hours or one hour if the temperature is over 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

Don't forget about your pets. You may think a picnic and fireworks are a great way to celebrate the Fourth of July but chances are the holiday will freak out your pet. The days around Independence Day are the busiest of the year at animal shelters trying to reunite runaway pets with their owners. Sadly, many pets are struck and killed in their panic to escape the noise of fireworks.

The American Veterinary Medical Association and Penn Vet have some solid advice for keeping your pets safe.

Keep your pets hydrated and out of the sun.
Jeff Chiu, file
Keep your pets hydrated and out of the sun.
  • Have identification tags with up-to-date information on your pets. Microchips are best.
  • Keep a current photo of your pet.
  • Leave your pets at home when you go to parties, fireworks displays or parades or consider putting them in a safe, escape-proof room or crate during parties and fireworks.
  • If you are hosting a party, put notes on exit doors and gates to remind your guests to keep an eye out for pets trying to escape.
  • Don't let pets get near a hot grill.
  • Keep your pet cool, hydrated and out of the sun.
  • Never leave your pet in your car when it's warm outside.