Eating outdoors as the weather heats up is one of the hallmarks of summertime activity, but before you fire up your barbecue grill or send out invitations to the family picnic, there are some precautions you should take to avoid a common occurrence: food poisoning. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year more than 76 million people suffer from food borne illnesses, the result of eating contaminated food.

Preparing foods with unclean hands, eating undercooked meats, transferring contamination from raw meats to other foods, eating unwashed fruits and vegetables, and leaving perishable food out in warm weather can release a slew of bacteria, including E. coli and salmonella, as well as other food borne illnesses. This can result in nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or fever.

Here are six tips to stop food borne illnesses from ruining your summer fun:

1. Wash hands frequently. Wash hands with soap and water before and after handling raw meats.

2. Cook meats thoroughly. The FDA recommends using a food thermometer to make sure meats are cooked thoroughly. To stay safe, ground beef patties or hamburger should be cooked at 160 degrees; chicken and hot dogs at 165 degrees and steaks, lamb and fish at 145 degrees.

3. Don't reuse cooking platters or utensils. Using the same platter or utensils that previously held raw meat, poultry, or seafood to hold cooked foods can spread bacteria from the raw food's juices to the cooked food. Be sure to have clean platters and utensils by the grill to hold and serve cooked food.

4. Rinse all fruits and vegetables. Bacteria and other pathogens can be transferred to the inside of fruits or vegetables by cutting through them. To stay safe, rinse fruits and vegetables under running tap water and dry with a clean paper or cloth towel.

5. Keep foods at their proper temperature. Maintaining a temperature of 140 degrees for hot foods and 40 degrees or below for cold foods until they're ready to serve can help prevent the spread of food borne illnesses.  Avoid eating hot or cold foods if they've been sitting out for more than two hours or for one hour in temperatures of 90 degrees or above.

6. Store leftovers quickly. Put food leftovers in an ice chest or a refrigerator right away. Foods left out for more than two hours should be thrown away.