Thanksgiving Safety Month November 18, 2019
With Thanksgiving rapidly approaching, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is reminding everyone about the importance of taking extra precautions to keep their friends and loved ones safe this holiday season. It is not just house fires people should be wary of, but also remember to be careful with transportation and safely preparing food for your Thanksgiving feast.
Fires During Thanksgiving
According to the NFPA, in 2017 fire departments across the country responded to at least 1,600 house calls on Thanksgiving Day and night.
The most common cause behind Thanksgiving fires (and fire-related injuries and fatalities) is unattended cooking, or when someone walks away from the stove or oven while preparing food. The second cause of home fire deaths and injuries during Thanksgiving is cooking equipment itself. Other causes include fireplaces and candles.
The National Safety Council (NSC) recommends taking the following precautions to prevent fireplace and candle-related fires:
- Keep matches and lighters out of reach of children,
- Use flameless – not lighted – candles around flammable (e.g. curtains) items,
- Check and clean the chimney at least once every year, and:
- Make sure candles are in places where they cannot be knocked over or tampered with by children
Traveling during the holiday season can be particularly dangerous. For example, just two years ago 463 people died while traveling on Thanksgiving. Data shows that most people travel by motor vehicle during the holidays; motor vehicles are also proven to be the deadliest mode of travel based on the number of fatalities per passenger mile. Nearly one-third of holiday season driving fatalities involve a driver who is impaired by alcohol and/or drugs. Always designate a sober driver, and never get behind the wheel if you are impaired (this can include certain OTC drugs and prescription medications as well).
To prevent motor vehicle accidents on Thanksgiving, the NSC also recommends:
- Getting a good night’s sleep before driving to the destination – and not driving if you are fatigued or drowsy,
- Leaving early to avoid heavy traffic congestion,
- Making sure every person in the vehicle is safely buckled up and/or strapped in (e.g. booster seats, etc.),
- Having an emergency preparedness kit in the vehicle and preparing for inclement weather, and
- Putting the cell phone away – and any other potentially deadly distraction (like food, drinks, tinkering with audio or GPS).
Safe food handling and preparation is always important. People who are not accustomed to cooking for larger groups sometimes cut corners – but unsafe food handling, which can lead to serious (and sometimes deadly) cases of food poisoning, is never a joke.
Here are some tips on safe food handling from FoodSafety.gov, which is overseen by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services:
- Wash your hands frequently,
- Keep fresh produce and raw meat separate from one another (this also includes using separate cutting boards, utensils, and plates for undercooked and cooked meats, fresh produce, and raw meats to avoid cross contamination),
- Before serving, use a food thermometer to ensure that meat has been cooked to a safe temperature,
- Refrigerate all leftover food (hot and cold) within two hours of it being served, and:
- Remember: Thanksgiving leftovers are safe to eat for three to four days if they were properly refrigerated
Our whole team at Galfand Berger is wishing you and your loved ones a good – and safe – Thanksgiving!
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