5 common Thanksgiving Day hazards (and how to avoid them)

Avoid these five Thanksgiving Day hazards.

Thanksgiving is great. There’s delicious food, time with family and friends, and the bracing Atlanta autumn air. But the only thing is that Thanksgiving is actually more dangerous than it might appear at first glance. What could be so dangerous about a turkey, you might ask? Well, it’s not just the turkey. We’re going to explain a few of the top Thanksgiving Day hazards and give some quick tips for how to avoid them.

5 Thanksgiving Day hazards.

1. Fires.

Yep, this one might not be too much of a surprise, right? With a million things on the go at once and the truly heroic amount of multitasking that goes into a Thanksgiving dinner, fires happen. According to the NFPA (National Fire Protection Agency), Thanksgiving is the leading day for house fires related to cooking – in 2016, fire departments responded to an estimated 1,570 cooking fires.

The NFPA also reports that unattended cooking was the leading cause of these cooking fires.

So, be careful as you’re running around like a chicken – ah, turkey – with its head cut off this Thanksgiving. Check out these tips to prevent a fiery inferno this Thanksgiving – and avoid the resulting home insurance claim.

  • Stay in the kitchen and don’t abandon the food while it’s cooking, whether it’s in the oven or on the stove.
  • Establish a kid-free zone and keep the kids out of the kitchen so no one gets run over, burned, or splashed with hot water or food.
  • Keep the floor clear so no one trips over anything.
  • Keep flammable items – oven mitts, food packaging, wooden spoons, and so on – away from the stovetop.
  • Keep knives, matches, and other pointy or flammable items out of reach of children.
  • Make sure your smoke detectors have working batteries and function properly.
  • Skip the deep-fryer. Sure, a deep-fried turkey might taste delicious, but turkey fryers are super dangerous. You might turn your turkey into an explosion.

2. Cooking accidents.

Large knives, high-speeds, too many “helpers” in the kitchen creating distractions, hot surfaces…it’s an absolutely foolproof plan, right?

On Thanksgiving, everyone wants to pitch in to lend a hand with dinner, right? (Well, hopefully, people want to be helpful.) The only problem is that cooking involves a lot of sharp, pointy objects and hot surfaces. It’s all too easy for inexperienced – or experienced – chefs to accidentally slice a finger instead of a carrot or brush a hand against a hot oven or stove. Make sure that everyone assisting is comfortable wielding their weapon of choice and make sure everyone takes their time. Slow and steady wins the race…and can avoid a situation in which someone loses a finger.

3. Food poisoning.

Turkeys are delicious. But if the turkey isn’t cooked thoroughly, there’s a risk of some not-so-delicious food poisoning. Turkey can be rife with an icky bacteria called salmonella. It’s pretty nasty stuff.

Follow these steps to safely and completely cook your turkey.

  • First of all, read the label. Determine whether it’s a frozen turkey or a refrigerated turkey.
  • Have a refrigerator thermometer to make sure the turkey is stored at 40˚F or just below that and a meat thermometer to make sure the turkey reaches 165˚F when it’s cooked.
  • Thaw the turkey properly.
  • Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water before cooking and after handling the turkey.
  • Don’t wash the turkey. You’ll only end up smearing the germs and turkey-nastiness on your kitchen surfaces.
  • Don’t let the raw turkey mix with any of the other food.
  • Have separate utensils, cutting boards, dishes, and so on for the raw turkey. This will help you avoid accidentally contaminating other food.
  • Use warm water and plenty of soap to wash anything that’s touched raw meat or turkey.
  • Remember that 165˚F is the magic temperature. Use your food thermometer to check your turkey’s temperature in the thickest section of the breast, the innermost section of the thigh, and the innermost section of the wing.
  • Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours.

4. Car accidents

Thanksgiving is also a potentially dangerous time to drive, as weather conditions could get a bit scary and alcohol is often a guest at dinner. It’s important to check your car before you head out to visit family and make sure it’s ready for the winter weather. And if you’re planning to drive home after dinner, appoint someone to be the designated driver. Or just plan to stay the night at your family or friend’s place.

Anyways, be careful if you’re hitting the roads to see family or friends. Drive safe and take care.

5. Heart issues.

So, Thanksgiving dinner is kind of the biggest meal of the year. The food is super rich, and we may eat more than perhaps is wise. The volume and richness of the food (and the alcohol) can increase the odds of having a heart attack. One study of nearly 2,000 heart attack survivors that was presented to the American Heart Association showed that the odds of having a heart attack were multiplied by four during the two hours following a big, rich meal.

Those are six potential hazards to watch out for this Thanksgiving. Though of course, it’s important to relax and enjoy the time spent with family and loved ones, it’s also important to take care to stay safe during the holiday season. Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving, Atlanta!

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