Top 10 Tips for a Terrific Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is a time where families come together to enjoy a good meal and reflect on all we can be thankful for. However, this means that a lot more people will be in the kitchen, leading to an uptick in cooking fires and accidental burns. According to the NFPA, in 2018, U.S fire departments responded to over 1,630 kitchen fires. Thanksgiving remains the peak day for such fires to occur. As you prepare this year’s feast, remember that by following these safety tips, you can ensure your holiday is smooth as gravy.
1. Don’t leave the stovetop unattended.
While cooking, always remain in the kitchen to keep an eye on the food. Pots can very quickly boil over and start fires. According to the NFPA, unattended cooking is the top cause of cooking fires and fire deaths.
2. Turn pot handles inward.
The National Burn Association reports that 300 children are treated for burn injuries every day and 2 children die from burn-related injuries. If you have young children, be sure to turn pot handles in so they can’t be bumped or grabbed by little hands.
3. Keep a fire extinguisher on hand.
The most common type of kitchen fire is the grease fire. Do not try to put this type of fire out with water, as this can actually spread the flames even further. Use a Class B dry chemical fire extinguisher instead. If you don’t have one on hand, use baking soda or salt to smother the flames.
4. Check smoke alarms before you start cooking.
Most smoke detectors include a test button somewhere on the device. Press it for a few seconds, and you should hear a loud siren emanating from the detector. If you don’t hear anything or the sound is weak, this means the batteries are dead and need to be replaced immediately.
5. Wash your hands regularly.
Always wash your hands before and after handling raw or under-cooked poultry products, such as the Thanksgiving turkey. Raw meat contains harmful bacteria and can cause diarrhea and vomiting if consumed, even in small quantities. Use separate cutting boards to prevent cross-contamination.
6. Don’t give turkey bones to your pets.
Poultry bones such as turkey and chicken should never be given to pets. These kinds of bones can splinter and cause choking. Remember that food products such as onions, leeks, garlic, raisins, grapes and chocolate are all hazardous to dogs. Consider putting your animals in a separate room for the duration of the meal to prevent them from getting to the food.
7. Travel Safely.
Because Thanksgiving is a very travel-heavy holiday, be prepared before hitting the road. Watch weather reports carefully, carry an emergency kit and buckle up. Always tell your friends and family when you’re leaving the house so they know to watch for you.
8. Label possible allergens clearly.
If you have friends and family with food allergies, make sure to clearly label each dish with all possible allergens. While cooking, be mindful about cross-contamination and use separate cutting boards and serving spoons. Be sure to offer allergy-safe alternatives to popular Thanksgiving dishes.
9. Use battery-operated candles.
Swap your candles for battery-powered tealights for the table this year. Regular candles can easily be knocked over and catch tablecloths on fire.
10. Refrigerate hot or cold leftovers within two hours of serving.
The CDC reports a spike in food poisoning outbreaks every year around the holiday season. To prevent this, do not store food at room temperature for longer than two hours. Cooked turkey can keep for up to 3-4 days in the refrigerator, but make sure you research when to dispose of all your Thanksgiving leftovers to avoid food poisoning.
As Thanksgiving approaches, remember these tips for having a holiday that is sweeter than pumpkin pie. Stay alert while cooking, avoid fire hazards and cross-contamination and always travel safely. Happy Thanksgiving.