Thankful for a Safe Holiday – Thanksgiving Safety Tips

It’s almost Thanksgiving, that uniquely American holiday when we gorge ourselves on food, football and family. It’s great to have a big crowd together to share a big meal, but in all that hubbub it’s easy to forget some safety basics. Here are a few tips for a safer holiday:

There are more than twice as many residential fires reported on Thanksgiving as on other days of the year, and three-quarters of those are related to cooking. Let’s look at how to avoid them:

You’ve no doubt seen the many videos of exploding turkey fryers, so please remember: When frying your turkey, make sure it’s fully defrosted first. Frozen turkey plus hot oil equals explosion. Also, resist the temptation to use the fryer in the garage and instead set it up out in the driveway or yard, well away from anything combustible. Keep a careful eye on it once it’s lit.

Whether the turkey is being cooked indoors or out, you’ll have a lot going on in the kitchen. With multiple dishes cooking in multiple ways, it’s easy to lose track of one and not realize it until someone says, “Do you smell smoke?” Don’t leave the kitchen unattended while cooking on the stovetop, and don’t leave the house while there’s food in the oven.

All those extra side dishes might involve extra appliances, too, from mixers to toaster ovens to slow cookers. Make sure each one is plugged into its own outlet, preferably a GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter). Don’t overload outlets, and keep each appliance as close as possible to the receptacle to minimize the risk of power cords getting snagged as the meal is prepared.

Don’t take this as a comment on your cooking, but test all your smoke detectors before the big day, and remember that every kitchen should always have a working fire extinguisher ready to go, not just on holidays. Keeping a box of baking soda handy for small fires is also a good idea.

If small children are on the guest list, and especially if it’s been a while since little ones lived in the house, take a fresh look at making the space child-safe. Kids should obviously be kept away from the stove and oven, but keep knives out of reach as well. Limit the use of candles. In fact, a house that’s overcrowded with people of any age is a good reason to skip the candles.

Finally, remember that although fire is a big hazard on Thanksgiving, it’s not the only one. Keep kitchen floors and other traffic areas free of obstructions and clean up any spills promptly to avoid slips and falls. And carefully follow food preparation instructions to make sure everything is properly cooked so you and your guests can have a great Black Friday as well.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Questions about safety or safety training? Contact Heart to Beat.

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