Celebrate a Safe Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to spend with family, friends, and eat a food-inducing amount of food. Furthermore, it’s a prime time to watch the game, parade, or Puppy Bowl! Thanksgiving is the peak day of the year for kitchen fires. According to Huffman and Huffman, an average of 4,000 kitchen fires occur every year on Thanksgiving. As recorded by the National Fire Protection Association, homes are three times more likely to sustain fire damage due to cooking. With cooking multiple dishes and plenty of distractions going on in the kitchen, it’s understandable why kitchen fires are so prevalent this time of the year. Continue reading for tips to celebrate a safe Thanksgiving weekend.

A baked Thanksgiving turkey resting on a stovetop

Kitchen safety is particularly important during the Holidays, especially as homes become busy. Follow these tips to ensure that you and your families will enjoy a safe Thanksgiving.

Kitchen Safety:

  • Tuck away cords so that appliances aren’t pulled off the counter. Also, keep the floor clear of tripping hazards
  • Keeps kids away from stoves and hot liquids. Additionally, keep lighters and matches out of reach of children and never leave them unsupervised in the house.
  • Keep a container of baking soda on hand to put out kitchen fires. It’s also a good idea to keep a home fire extinguisher in or around the kitchen.
  • Do not leave the stone unattended, especially while cooking. This is a general rule of the kitchen though it’s even more important during the holidays.
  • Make sure that all smoke alarms are functional. It only takes a couple of minutes to test your smoke alarms.
  • Never leave burning candles or incenses unattended or near flammable objects such as drapes or curtains.
  • Be extremely careful when cooking and closely follow all instructions.
  • Move flammable objects away from the stove, including long, loose sleeves which may catch fire.
  • Keep a pan or cookie sheet nearby in the event that you will need to quickly put out a fire

Deep Frying Turkey

Fire departments warn that deep frying a turkey can be dangerous due to dangers of high heat, tipping over, overheating, and oil spilling over the edge. An overfilled pot of oil can spill hot oil over the edge and onto the burner, which could cause a large fire. Additionally, lowering a partially frozen turkey into a hot vat of oil may cause hot oil to react and spill out. Individuals cooking without a thermometer post the risk of heating the oil past the combustion point.

According to the National Fire Safety Association: deep fryer fires cause an average of 5 deaths, 60 injuries and more than $15 million in property damage each year.

FDNY Foundation

Food Safety

According to the CDC, the improper handling of turkey and other poultry is one of the main causes for food-borne illnesses. Always wash your hands and cooking surfaces when handling raw or uncooked meat. Make sure to wash cutting boards to reduce the chances of cross-contamination.

  • Use a food thermometer to ensure that foods are properly cooked through. Follow instructions for the different foods you’re cooking to make sure the center is thoroughly cooked.
  • Thaw your turkey in a refrigerator and in a leak-proof container. Never thaw your food out on the counter to prevent food warming up to room temperature, it should always defrost to a safe temperature.
  • Store leftovers within 2 hours of cooking or toss them.
  • Cook stuffing thoroughly. It’s a lot easier to cook stuffing in a separate dish. If you are going to stuff your turkey, put the stuffing in the turkey right before cooking to reduce the chances of food poisoning.
  • Cook your turkey thoroughly. Read instructions for how long to cook your turkey for. This isn’t an area where you want to cut corners.
A Dalmatian begs for table scraps

Pet Safety

Pets are just as much a part of the family as anyone else. Aside from keeping the kids out of the kitchen, it’s important that pets are also in the clear. As a general rule, never give pets chicken or turkey as bones can splinter and pose as a choking hazard. Here is a list of foods that are dangerous for dogs to consume according to the Animal Health Foundation.

  • Alcohol. Leads to coma, death, and intoxication
  • Avocado. Leads to vomiting and diarrhea
  • Raisins. May lead to kidney failure
  • Walnuts. May lead to nervous system and muscle damage
  • Onions and Garlic. Leads to blood cell damage and anemia
  • Grapes. May lead to kidney failure
  • Some varieties of mushrooms. May lead to shock and or death
  • Fatty foods. May lead to pancreatitis
  • Caffeine. May lead to vomiting and diarrhea
  • Candies. May lead to liver failure, hypoglycemia, and death
  • Chocolate. May lead to death, is toxic to heart, and nervous system damage
  • Medication. Leads to kidney failure and stomach ulcers

Holiday Travel Safety

Thanksgiving and the holidays are a popular time for families to travel. We’ve written a blog about the importance of securing your home when traveling, but here are some tips for safely traveling in a vehicle. The National Safety Council estimates that over 500 people may die on U.S. roads this holiday season. Traveling by vehicle has the highest fatality rate per passenger per mile. Additionally, alcohol consumption is high during this time of year.

First and foremost, never drive drunk and never allow any of your guests to drive away from your home while intoxicated. Make sure to have arrangements in place if a guest becomes too intoxicated to drive. Here are additional traveling safety tips:

  • Make sure vehicles are well maintained including tires, brakes, etc.
  • Do not text and drive. It’s important to minimize the amount of distractions while on the road.
  • Be aware of your surroundings
  • Do not depend on other drivers to make smart decisions. Many describe this as defensive driving, where you take others’ incompetence or lack of attention into consideration.
  • Keep your speed down, and maintain a safe distance from other vehicles.
  • Do not host or attend parties if you are sick or are exhibiting COVID symptoms. With many families emerging from a global pandemic, many are quick to return to pre-pandemic festivities. It’s important to remember to practice safe social distancing and to wear a mask when you are presenting symptoms.