Avoid Accidents on Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving is one of the most joyous national holidays of the year, a time when family members from across the country gather to share a meal and give thanks for their many blessings.

The traditional meal of turkey, dressing and all the fixings is usually the focal point of the holiday, and its preparation often involves multiple cooks in the kitchen. Unfortunately,Thanksgiving is also the peak day for home cooking fires, with three times as many fires reported compared to an average day, according to the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA).

More than 4,000 fires occur every Thanksgiving as families turn up the heat and prepare for the big meal, the U.S. Fire Administration reports. Electrical malfunctions, carelessness and open flames are the primary causes of large, non-confined, residential fires on Thanksgiving, complianceandsafety.com reports. Cooking fires are the No. 1 cause of home fire-related injuries.

One of the best steps that families can take to avoid Thanksgiving Day accidents is to keep children out of the kitchen, either by sending them outside to play or organizing indoor games and activities that keep them away from the stove. Kids can participate in Thanksgiving food preparation with some recipes that can be created in another room, the NFPA suggests.

Precautions to Avoid Stove Fires on Thanksgiving

  • Never leave the kitchen when food is cooking on the stove top.
  • When the turkey is cooking in the oven, stay inside the house and check it frequently. Consider using a timer.
  • If children come into the kitchen, keep them at least 3 feet from a hot stove.
  • Hot food and liquids such as vegetables, gravy or coffee can cause burns, so keep them away from children.
  • Clear the floor of items such as toys or pocketbooks so you don’t trip while carrying large pots of food or the turkey.
  • Make sure knives are out of children’s reach.Keep electrical cords from electric knives, coffee makers, warmers or mixers from dangling off counters where children can grab them.
  • Matches and utility lighters should be kept out of children’s reach, preferably locked in a cabinet.
  • Avoid leaving children in rooms with burning candles. Use of candles is not suggested.
  • Test smoke alarms before the event by pushing the test button.

Some families have adopted the tradition of deep-frying a turkey. But a mishap when cooking a 15-pound turkey in a vat of extremely hot oil can cause a serious injury. Cooking oil can reach temperatures of more than 400 degrees in a deep fryer so caution should be taken to prevent burning yourself or starting a fire. Water is very dangerous when deep-frying. When water touches hot oil, it vaporizes and may cause oil to splatter and cause burns.

Deep-frying should be done outside on a patio or driveway and not left unattended.

In case a fire breaks out:

  • Always have a kitchen fire extinguisher handy and make sure you know how to use it.
  • Do not try to put out any grease fire including a fire in a deep fryer with water because that can cause it to spread. Turn off the burner and smother the flames with a lid or put baking soda on them.
  • If a grease fire gets completely out of hand, get everyone out of the house and then call 911.

Avoid Food-related Illnesses:

Turkey is always the main course, but if not prepared properly it can make people sick.

  • Buy your bird one to two days before cooking and keep it in the refrigerator. Freeze it if you buy it earlier.
  • Thaw in the refrigerator (one day for 4-5 pounds), cold water (30 minutes for every pound) or in a microwave oven (using microwave-safe pan and following manufacturer’s instructions).
  • Start cooking right after thawing and avoid slow cooking or partial cooking. Use at least 165 degrees heat.
  • Cook stuffing separately.
  • Check inner parts of the turkey with a thermometer to make sure they’re cooked.
  • Wash hands with soap and water before and after you handle food.
  • To prevent cross-contamination, don’t handle cooked and raw food at the same time, and avoid putting vegetables or uncooked food with raw meat.
  • Put leftovers in the refrigerator less than two hours after the meal is over and make sure they are eaten within three days. Anything else should be frozen.

Social functions like Thanksgiving are filled with joking, old stories and laughter, making the possibility of choking a very real danger.

  • If someone begins to choke and can’t cough, breathe or speak, call 911.
  • To dislodge food, give five sharp blows to the victim’s back with the heel of your hand.
  • If that doesn’t work, wrap your hands around the person’s abdomen and perform rapid upward thrusts.

Travel tips:

  • If you’re driving to a relative’s house, make sure you know what route to take. Check a GPS before leaving and look at a weather report to make sure roads will be safe.
  • If you’re flying, make plans well in advance to avoid holiday airport congestion.
  • Don’t advertise that you’re going out of town by posting your travel plans on social networks. That could tip off burglars.
  • Give an extra set of keys to a trusted friend or longtime neighbor in case you need someone to go into your house while you’re gone. Let them pick up your mail, too.
  • Check all doors and windows before leaving to make sure they’re secure.
  • Put your lights on a timer to make sure an area of your house is lit at night.
  • Purchase a security alarm system, which will help you throughout the year.

Taking a few common-sense precautions with children, cooking, fire prevention and travel can help you avoid accidents this Thanksgiving and ensure you have a fun holiday with friends and family.