Let's Talk Turkey

Thanksgiving is always a memorable time of year.  Unfortunately, this may not always be for the right reasons.  We all remember the time Grandma didn't cook the turkey all the way through and the entire family ended up losing five pounds, or the time Dad lost his eyebrows because he threw water on a grease fire.

Fortunately, these types of mishaps typically become part of family legend.  Nevertheless, it is important to practice common sense.  Being cognizant of some typical holiday dangers can go a long way towards making your Thanksgiving a success.

Travel Safety Tips

Thanksgiving is the busiest travel weekend of the year.  An estimated 43.4 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home over Thanksgiving weekend according to AAA.  90 percent of those traveling will do so by car.  Here are some tips to consider when hitting the road for the holiday.

1. Properly secure the items in your car so they will not be a hazard should you have to brake suddenly.  This includes using containers with tight-fitting lids so you will not be tempted to lunge to prevent spills while driving.

2. Food poisoning can be an issue when food is left out for more than  a few hours at room temperature.  If preparing a hot dish, cook it completely the day before and refrigerate it before reheating it at your destination. 

3.  Allow yourself extra travel time, especially in areas where there may be inclement weather.  Slow traffic should be considered a given with so many drivers on the road, so you will be less stressed and drive safer if you are not in a rush.

4. Do not announce travel plans over social media.  One study found that 4 out of 5 ex-burglars used social media sites to identify unoccupied properties.  Further information on this topic can be found in the documentary Home Alone.

5.  If possible, try and make your house seem occupied. Leave lights on a timer or have a friend or neighbor pick up your mail. One especially clever child even used cardboard cutouts and his train set to make it appear as if a raucous holiday party was occurring to passersby.

6. Clean leaves and debris out of rain gutters to prevent flooding and roof damage in the event of a storm.

7. Be sure to lock all windows and doors.  Many burglaries are the result of unforced entry.

Hosting Safety Tips

Congratulations! You have decided to host your family for Thanksgiving.  While you have likely compiled a mental list of topics to avoid with "that" uncle, the truth is your meal prep will mostly determine whether or not the event is a success.  Nearly 70% of Thanksgiving Day fires are the result of a cooking mishap.  With that in mind, consider the following tips for avoiding a stove top disaster.

1. The majority of kitchen fires are the result of unattended cooking.  Although entertaining for the holidays presents a plethora of distractions, never walk away from a stove or appliance while in use.

2. Keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen and make sure everyone in the family knows how to use it.

3. Loose-fitting clothing creates a fire hazard while cooking because the fabric can ignite.  Make sure your sleeves are either short or tightly rolled to avoid danger.

4. Using the oven for hours on end can be a major source of carbon monoxide.  Make sure your kitchen fan or vents are open, and crack a window or door periodically.  Be sure your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are in good working order.

5. In the event of a stove top fire, turn off the stove and cover the pan with a lid.  You can also use a fire extinguisher to put it out.  Be sure not to douse the flames in water or flour as this may result in a flare-up.

6. Always dispose of hot grease properly.  After cooling, discard it in a covered metal can.  Never dispose of hot grease directly in the garbage.

7. When deep-frying a turkey, never do so indoors.  Make sure the turkey is completely dry and thawed and be aware of splashing oil.

8.  If a fire starts in your oven, turn off the oven and close the door. Call 911 and wait outside of your home for firefighters to arrive.

9.  Make sure all cooking appliances and candles are fully turned off and extinguished before going to bed.

Have Fun!

Thanksgiving should be memorable for all of the right reasons.  By following these simple safety tips and practicing a little common sense, you can make sure that your Thanksgiving will not become a family punch line for years to come.  Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

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