You’re sitting around the Thanksgiving table. You’re surrounded by friends and family with a bountiful feast in front of you. (Hopefully you’re having something a bit more appetizing than buttered toast, popcorn, and pretzel sticks like in A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.) You’re relaxing, enjoying the festivities, and taking a moment to think about the things you’re most thankful for. Was safety one of the things you listed?
Imagine a completely different scene. Your mom dropped the turkey out of the oven and burned herself. Aunt Carrie cut herself peeling potatoes. Your young cousin Sarah is bouncing off the walls on a sugar rush, and she’s made more than a few family members trip. It’s a typical disaster scene straight out of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.
Did you know that there’s no other day of the year with more reported kitchen fires than on Thanksgiving Day? Accidents are most often caused by leaving the kitchen unattended while cooking and using a deep fryer. Fires are an obvious danger and can cause painful and scarring burns, but people also hurt themselves in other ways on Thanksgiving by cutting themselves or tripping over a child and either spilling hot food or getting bumps, bruises, or sprains. Avoid these common mishaps by following these tips:
- Stay in the kitchen! Keep an eye on what’s cooking so you can catch anything boiling over or burning.
- Check on your turkey often.
- Keep the kids contained—if they’re running around, they can be distracting or cause unnecessary accidents.
- Thaw your turkey fully, especially if you’re deep frying it. Putting a partially frozen turkey in a deep fryer is a recipe for danger (i.e. an explosion). Remember that a turkey should not be defrosted at room temperature.
- Keep your deep fryer OUTSIDE, and don’t overfill it with oil.
- Keep candles away from curious hands, or don’t light them at all.
- Make sure your smoke detectors work.
It’s also important to pay attention to food safety on Thanksgiving. Food-borne illness cases spike in November and December every year. Reviewing proper cooking and turkey stuffing techniques should be on your to-do list before the big day. Prevent the spread of bacteria by avoiding cross contamination and undercooking food. You’ll also be preventing nasty stomach bugs—some of which can come on within 10 hours and can last a full day. You should also pay attention to your guests and any food allergies they may have. Be sure you avoid cross contamination of trigger foods if they’re allergic to anything you’re making, and let them know if allergens are present in any of the foods you prepared.
If you know the Heimlich maneuver, it’s always a good idea to review the steps before Thanksgiving, too!