Thanksgiving Safety Tips
October 27, 2021
Thanksgiving is a time for celebrating, spending time with friends and family and of course, a time for eating lots of delicious holiday food. While there is plenty of fun to be had by all, it is also important to remember that Thanksgiving creates some of its own risks that are important to mitigate. To help keep you and your loved ones safe, we have provided some useful tips on safe food handling, traveling safely, and how to prevent house and apartment fires to keep everyone happy and healthy this upcoming holiday season.
It is also important to note that just like last year, many Americans are asking how they can safely and responsibly celebrate this Thanksgiving in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers tips to safely celebrate.
Traveling Safety Tips
Somewhere between 50 and 60 million people travel for Thanksgiving festivities in the United States every year. Whether you will be hosting guests for this year’s Thanksgiving in your own residence or celebrating the holiday at someone else’s, it is safe to assume that some degree of travel will be involved. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), 43,000 to 68,000 Americans are involved in car accidents where they sustain injuries that require a medical consultation during the Thanksgiving period. According to the council, the Thanksgiving period runs from 6 p.m. Wednesday to 11:59 p.m. Sunday during the weeks immediately before and after Thanksgiving day weekend.
Certain risk factors increase a person’s chances of being involved in a dangerous or deadly holiday motor vehicle accident, like impairment by alcohol and/or drugs, driver distraction, traffic, driver fatigue, and more. To limit the risks associated with holiday travel, the NSC recommends the following:
- Always buckle up with a seat belt. Make sure that everyone else in the vehicle is safely buckled up or strapped in (e.g. booster seats, etc.)
- Leave as early as possible to avoid getting caught in traffic
- Get a good night’s sleep before you drive to a destination. If you are too tired or drowsy to drive, wait until you are well-rested
- Never drive under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. You can designate a sober driver or hail a rideshare or taxi service to get home safely
- Have an emergency preparedness kit in the vehicle and be prepared to encounter inclement weather
- Brush up on your defensive driving tactics
- Put your cell phone and any other distractions (like food and drinks) away any time you are behind the wheel
Food Handling Tips
As we all know, turkey is a Thanksgiving holiday staple. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), handling poultry incorrectly and undercooking it are some of the most common problems that contribute to foodborne disease outbreaks. To avoid food handling and cooking mishaps that can lead to serious illness, the CDC recommends:
- Thawing your turkey safely. While some people thaw a turkey by leaving it out on the counter, this can be unsafe. When you leave a turkey at room temperature for more than two hours, bacteria begins to grow rapidly. Instead, thaw the turkey in the refrigerator in a container, in a leak-proof plastic bag in a sink of cold water (and change the water every thirty minutes), or in the microwave, following the microwave oven manufacturer’s instructions
- Practicing safe food handling. Follow these four steps: clean, separate, cook, and chill
- Washing your hands with warm soapy water for twenty seconds before and after handling turkey
- Using a separate cutting board for uncooked turkey
- Never placing cooked food or fresh produce on a plate, cutting board, or other surface that previously held raw turkey
- Washing cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and countertops with hot soapy water after preparing turkey and before preparing the next food item
- Cooking turkey thoroughly. Before you serve turkey, use a food thermometer to ensure that the meat has reached a safe internal temperature (165 degrees)
- Refrigerating all leftover food items within two hours of serving
- Remember: leftovers are safe to eat for three to four days so long as you refrigerate and store them properly
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), Thanksgiving is the leading day of the year for home fires that involve cooking equipment. Each year, fire departments across the country respond to more than 1,500 house calls on Thanksgiving day and night. Although holidays can be chaotic, it is important to follow certain safety tips that can protect you and your loved ones from falling victim to a house fire.
The NFPA reports that one of the top contributing factors for holiday fires is unattended cooking, so it is critical to always stay in the kitchen and keep an eye on cooking food. The association’s other fire safety tips include:
- Stay in your home while cooking turkey and be sure to check on it often
- Keep children a minimum of three feet away from the stove
- Prevent children from accessing hot foods and liquids. Even steam or splash from gravy, vegetable, or coffee can result in serious burn injuries
- Keep knives and other sharp kitchen objects away from children. Safely store matches and utility lighters as well
- Do not leave a child unattended in a room with a lit candle
- Be sure that electric cords (like those from coffee makers, plate warmers, and electric knives) do not dangle off the counter and are out of children’s reach
- Keep floors clear from clutter
- Make sure your smoke alarms are working
Our whole team at Galfand Berger is wishing you and your loved ones a good – and safe – Thanksgiving!
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