Thanksgiving is right around the corner. It’s the busiest time for travelers, as millions of people hit the roads to visit loved ones. And, since it’s a holiday centered around food – naturally folks spend a lot of time cooking in the kitchen. Stay safe on the road and in the kitchen with these travel and cooking safety tips courtesy of the American Red Cross:
TRAVEL SAFETY Before hitting the road, check for closures/construction updates and possible inclement weather along the route. Everyone should use their seat belt – even backseat passengers. Drivers should be well rested and alert, so their full attention is on the road. Other driving safety tips include:
- Observe all signs and the posted speed limit.
- Expect heavy traffic and possible delays.
- Use caution in work zones.
- Make frequent stops. During long trips, rotate drivers.
- Don’t follow another vehicle too closely.
- Clean headlights, taillights, signal lights and windows for better visibility.
- Headlights should be on at dusk and when windshield wipers are in use.
- Do not drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Keep both hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.
- Drivers should not do anything that might distract them from the primary task of driving – including eating, drinking, talking on a hands-free device, texting, internet searches, setting a GPS, etc.
COOKING SAFETY Cooks should avoid wearing loose clothing or dangling sleeves while preparing the holiday meal. Never leave the stove unattended – if the cook must leave the kitchen even for a short time, they should turn off the stove. More cooking safety tips include:
- Wash hands, cooking utensils and surfaces between each food prep step.
- Thaw rule is 4 lbs per 24 hours. Thaw turkey in refrigerator in the original packaging. Wait to stuff turkey until just prior to baking.
- Cook turkey and stuffing to 165 degrees. Turkey thighs are best at 175 degrees.
- Keep refrigerated food at 40 degrees and hot food at 140 degrees.
- Eat or freeze leftovers within 3-4 days. Heat leftovers to 165 degrees.
- Keep children and pets away from the cooking area.
- Keep anything that can catch fire – pot holders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, and towels or curtains—away from hot kitchen appliances.
- Have a fire extinguisher nearby at all times.
- Check the kitchen before going to bed or leaving home to make sure all appliances are turned off.
FRIED TURKEY SAFETY Fried turkeys are delicious, but they can be dangerous to prepare. Thousands of fires, injuries and even deaths happen each year due to turkey fryer fires. Before setting up the turkey fryer, carefully review these safety tips:
- Stay Away from Structures and People– fryer should be at least 10 feet away from any structure. Do not use it IN, ON or UNDER a garage, carport, porch or breezeway. Always keep children and pets away. Never leave it unattended.
- Find Flat Ground – The oil must always be even and steady. Place the fryer on a flat, level surface to avoid spills.
- Measure Oil Carefully – Putting the turkey into the oil, will displace some of that liquid. Do the math to determine how much oil you need and measure it carefully. Starting with too much oil in the fryer, will cause it to overflow the fryer – which can cause severe burns or a fire.
- Use a Thawed and Dry Turkey – Make sure the turkey is completely thawed and dry. Extra water will cause the oil to bubble furiously and spill over – which can cause severe burns or a fire.
- Add/Remove Turkey Carefully – Use caution when touching the turkey fryer. The lid and handle can become very hot and could cause burns. Always lower and raise the turkey slowly to avoid burns.
- Monitor the Oil Temperature –Have a way to monitor the oil temperature, as not all fryers are equipped with this feature. Check the temperature frequently and, if the oil begins to smoke, turn the fryer off.
- Be Prepared – Always have a fire extinguisher ready in case the oil ignites. Do not attempt to put out an oil fire with water. Call 911 immediately.
Matt Casey and Matt Devoti wish everyone a happy and safe Thanksgiving!