HILL AIR FORCE BASE – Thanksgiving provides an amazing opportunity to gather with our families and friends. The holiday weekend is packed with a multitude of traditions. Observing our traditions with safety in mind ensures the imagery, memories and associations we have with this holiday remain positive and can be sustained year after year. Nothing will tarnish a celebration faster than an injury, a fire, or an automobile accident.
Our grandest traditions include watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, eating a traditional meal, playing in a local turkey bowl, running in a turkey trot and embracing the madness of Black Friday shopping.
Each of these activities has risks associated. Being mindful of risk and planning smart ways to reduce risk can help us keep the fun and festivities at the forefront.
The top safety risks associated with Thanksgiving are focused on fire, food and travel.
The National Fire Prevention Association reports that Thanksgiving Day is the leading day of the year for home fires. Over 4,000 fires occur annually on Thanksgiving Day, and approximately 900 homes are lost nationwide.
Staying in the kitchen while preparing food, keeping children away from the stove, cleaning as you cook, and ensuring your smoke alarms are working are steps you can take to reduce fire risks associated with cooking. Ensure you have a working fire extinguisher and know how to use it before you begin meal preparation.
Food safety includes preparation, knife safety and proper leftovers handling.
Always wash your hands after touching raw or undercooked poultry, and often while preparing food that will be consumed by others. We’ve had a lot of practice washing our hands over the past few years, so we should be experts at it by now. Use soap and water for at least 20 seconds, wash every part of your hands including your nails and rinse clean. Use a clean towel, single-use towel or air dry.
The USDA guidelines for safe poultry consumption require turkey to be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165 °F. At this temperature, salmonella is killed, and your turkey is safe to eat. Generally, you can remove your turkey when your thermometer reads 155-160 degrees and allow it to rest. Your bird will continue to cook and should rise approximately 10 degrees while at rest.
Keep your knives stored when not in use. Many lacerations occur when someone places a knife in the sink, and it is obscured by other dishes. Immediately clean knives and place them in a rack to dry. Keeping knives in storage or in a drying rack also reduces the possibility of inadvertent contact, or of them being knocked off a counter.
No matter what tradition you observe, the most dangerous thing you will do during the Thanksgiving holiday is travel to and from your celebration destination. The National Safety Council estimates over 500 people will perish on US roads during the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend. Seat belt use reduces your chance of fatality by 45%.
Alcohol-impairment is a factor in 29% of Thanksgiving holiday fatalities. Wear your seat belt, and don’t drink and drive, and you’ve already significantly reduced risk. Planning your travel outside of peak travel periods is another excellent way to reduce holiday travel risk.