Can you believe next week is already Thanksgiving? The holidays are meant to be a celebratory time of year with friends, family, and plenty of food to go around.
With all the excitement and festivities, it’s easy to forget or lose track of time in the midst of all the hubbub and catching-up with everyone. Be careful not to get too lost in the bustle!
Unfortunately, Thanksgiving is the leading time of year for home fires related to cooking. Across the nation, firefighters responded to over 1,700 home cooking fires on Thanksgiving Day in 2015.
Let’s remember to take a little extra time to ensure that your Thanksgiving memories are filled with fun, food, and joy, and not a tragedy that could have been prevented.
The following tips are to help you stay focused, prepared, and safe for this Thanksgiving holiday.
In the days or nights before, it’s great practice to gather all of the recipes, ingredients, cookware, appliances, and any other necessities in or by the cooking or food prep area. That way, it’s easy to see how much space is needed or how everything will be laid out, especially if you’re trying something different from previous years. You can also see which ingredients are either low or missing so you can re-stock in time and avoid a frenzied run to the grocery store.
2. Clear Your Cooking Space
Take note of the anticipated workspace and which appliances will be in use to make sure the areas are clear and free of hazards. This includes clearing the floor to prevent tripping, wrapping up or moving any cords that may be dangling, and of course, removing any potentially flammable items from the areas in use. Often for holiday feasts, we bring out additional appliances and may inadvertently put them in an area close to low-hanging drapes, decor, or piles of loose papers. These can quickly turn into fire hazards if not properly taken care of.
In a home brimming with visitors, it’s tempting for the cook(s) to wander away from their duties in attempts to better socialize with the crowd, especially if some of those visitors haven’t been around in awhile.
Make sure the chef(s) are cooking responsibly this Thanksgiving. Unattended cooking is the greatest contributor to home fires and the resulting deaths and injuries, which accounted for 33% of home fires, 49% of associated deaths, and 46% of associated injuries. Tag-team with another person to make sure there are eyes on stove-top cooking, or set timers and frequently check the kitchen for oven-baked or roasted items.
A Note About Deep-Fried Turkey:
Many of us are familiar with the hazards of deep-frying a turkey, but a reminder is worth the mention.
Improperly deep-frying a turkey can wreak frightening havoc with fires, explosions, and other tragic events. If you are set on deep-frying a turkey this Thanksgiving, be sure to thoroughly review directions, tips, and warnings before attempting this method.
4. Help Keep the Kids Occupied
If your Thanksgiving holiday involves children, make sure either the parents or somebody will supervise them and keep them out of the kitchen or other precarious areas or situations.
Setting up a designated corner or table with games, special activities, or hosting a playtime in the backyard can keep young kids occupied, entertained, and hopefully out of trouble.
5. Don’t Forget About Your Pets
While us humans are enjoying all of the food and the company, it can be a stressful and confusing time for our pets. An influx of visitors can mean skittish or less social pets may get overly nervous and possibly seek escape through a door inadvertently left open.
For sociable pets who don’t mind the extra activity bustling around the house, we must be mindful of keeping our food out of their reach. Raw foods like eggs or uncooked turkey could run the risk of salmonella poisoning. Raw bread dough contains yeast which converts sugars to alcohol and carbon dioxide gas; if ingested, it could create a potential emergency situation for your pet.
A little piece of cooked turkey may be fine for your pet, but be sure it is free of bones or other spices like onion, garlic, or chives that are also harmful to pets.
Not sure if something is safe to give your pet? It’s better to err on the side of caution and stick with their regular food or treats.
Most of these tips sound simple enough, but a little prep can go a long way to ensure a safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday.
Check out these references for further reading:
“Cooking Fire Safety”. National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Retrieved 15 November 2017. http://www.nfpa.org/-/media/Images/Infographics/CookingSafetyInfographic2016.ashx?as=1&iar=1&la=en&hash=EE72BEC984B56B59DBD9C40E523128595FA28E6B
“Thanksgiving Safety.” National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Retrieved 15 November 2017. http://www.nfpa.org/Public-Education/By-topic/Seasonal-fires/Thanksgiving-safety
“Don’t Make Turkey Frying a Disastrous Situation This Thanksgiving.” United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved 15 November 2017. https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2017/11/06/dont-make-turkey-frying-disastrous-situation-thanksgiving
“Thanksgiving Safety Tips.” American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). Retrieved 15 November 2017. https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/general-pet-care/thanksgiving-safety-tips
“People Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Pet.” American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). Retrieved 15 November 2017. https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/people-foods-avoid-feeding-your-pets