Thanksgiving is a time for family, food and honoring our nation’s history. Unfortunately, Thanksgiving is also the leading day for home cooking fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association, with three times as many occurrences as any other day of the year.
We’ve rounded up the top safety tips to help you have a happy and disaster-free holiday.
Don’t leave your home unattended while cooking your turkey, and check on it frequently. Set a timer to remind you to take your turkey out of the oven before it overcooks (and bursts into flames).
Oven drippings can spark a flame. Before placing anything in the oven, make sure your pan or cookware can hold the food and its drippings.
Keep flammable items, such as potholders, wooden utensils, towels, napkins and cleaning supplies, away from the stove top at all times.
Most importantly, be prepared in case of a fire. Make sure your smoke alarms are working properly before you begin your Thanksgiving festivities and ensure your household fire extinguisher is up-to-date.
As soon as your turkey begins to thaw, it can quickly turn into a breeding ground for bacteria if not properly handled. Thaw your turkey in the refrigerator or in cold water to prevent the formation of bacteria. Do not leave it sitting out at room temperature. For detailed instructions on how to safely cook a turkey, click here.
While wooden cutting boards may be more aesthetically pleasing, they tend to absorb bacteria, which increases the risk of foodborne illnesses. For holidays like Thanksgiving, where several food items are being handled at once, opt for color-coded plastic cutting boards instead.
Prevent post-holiday food poisoning by storing leftovers properly. Fight that tryptophan-induced coma and put leftovers in the refrigerator within two hours of preparation, placing them in shallow containers to allow them to cool faster.
Thoroughly wash your hands before and after touching food, especially meat, to prevent cross contamination. Be sure to clean utensils, cutting boards and cookware after they have come in contact with food, especially meat and eggs.
Unplug small appliances, such as blenders and electric hand mixers, when they’re not in use, and keep cords away from high traffic zones to prevent trips and falls.
Don’t put glassware from the refrigerator directly onto heat, or vice versa – it may shatter due to the sudden change in temperature.
Clean up spills immediately. For broken glass, use a broom to sweep up as much as you can and throw the pieces out in a paper bag. When you’re done, carefully shake the broom into the paper bag to get rid of any pieces of glass that may have gotten stuck in the bristles. But you’re not done yet… use a slice of soft sandwich bread to grab the dust-like glass particles that couldn’t be swept up with the broom.