Thanksgiving Day might be the unofficial beginning of the winter holiday season; however, it can also be a dangerous day for some families. From kitchen fires and accidents to automobile crashes, your chance of injury increases during the Thanksgiving holiday. Below are tips that can keep you and your family safe during the Thanksgiving holiday.

Thanksgiving Kitchen Safety

Your kitchen can pose several hazards. When you are preparing your Thanksgiving meal this year, follow these kitchen safety tips to reduce the risk of injury:

  • When you are preparing food on the stovetop, stay in the kitchen so you can keep an eye on the food.
  • If you are baking a turkey or ham, don’t leave home with the meat in the oven. Stay at home and check on the meat frequently.
  • Keep the clutter out of the kitchen to avoid tripping hazards.
  • Keep utility lighters and matches away from children.
  • Check your smoke alarms and replace the batteries if necessary.
  • Keep knives in a locked drawer or high location to keep them away from children.
  • Do not allow cords to dangle from the countertop within easy reach of a child.
  • Keep children at least three feet away from the stove and hot food. Steam, hot food, and hot surfaces can severely injure a child or adult.
  • Thanksgiving is the number one day for home fires caused in the kitchen. Fires are four times more likely at Thanksgiving. Therefore, follow fire safety rules when you are preparing your Thanksgiving meal.

Thanksgiving Food Safety

When you are preparing your Thanksgiving meal, keep the following food safety tips in mind whether you are preparing a Thanksgiving feast or a small meal for close family and friends:

  • Always use a meat thermometer to ensure your turkey, ham, or other meat is cooked
  • Use one of the approved methods from the USDA to thaw your turkey.
  • Wash your hands with warm soap and water after handling raw meat or food.
  • Do not wash meat! Washing meat can spread pathogens onto kitchen surfaces. Cooking the meat thoroughly will kill the bacteria that can cause foodborne illnesses.
  • Make sure you refrigerate leftovers within two hours to avoid spoilage.
  • Dispose of any leftovers that you have not consumed within three or four days.
  • If you stuff your turkey, place the stuffing inside the turkey immediately prior to cooking and don’t forget to check the temperature of the stuffing in addition to the temperature of the turkey. Stuffing should be cooked until the center reaches 165° F.
  • Be careful not to cross-contaminate when cooking. After cutting any raw meat, wash your hands, utensils, countertops, and cutting boards thoroughly.
  • Marinate poultry and meat in a covered container in the refrigerator.
  • Remember that hot food should be maintained at a temperature of 140° F or warmer. When storing and serving cold foods, make sure the temperature is 40° F or colder.

For more information about food safety, visit the FDA’s website for Food Safety Tips for Healthy Holidays.

Thanksgiving Travel Safety Tips

If you are traveling for the Thanksgiving Holiday, leave yourself extra time. Roads and airlines will be crowded. Leave early and be patient. When traveling by car, make sure you have your car inspected before you leave and have an emergency kit in your vehicle in case you are stranded. For families traveling with pets, you need to secure your pet in a crate or with a harness for your safety and your pet’s safety.