If you have ever hosted – or even helped to prepare – a Thanksgiving meal, you know how hectic the kitchen can get. Getting that beautiful, delicious meal out on the table requires a lot of behind the scenes effort, which is oh so worth it, but according to the National Fire Protection Association, “Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires… [and] in 2016, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 1,570 home cooking fires on Thanksgiving.” Considering the fire risk – and a few other health and safety risks associated with the holiday – it’s important to remember to be extra cautious about safety in the kitchen to ensure you’ll be able to enjoy that meal with family and friends when it’s done cooking.
Fires, which occur mostly in the kitchen, are the main safety concern on Thanksgiving.
Being proactive about fire safety can help prevent fires. Do not wear loose sleeves or sweaters, dangly jewelry or any other clothing or accessories that might get caught on pans or cooking utensils. Ensure that your cooking area, especially the oven and stovetop, are wiped down and free of items such as oven mitts, wooden utensils, and towels to prevent fires from starting. Be prepared just in case something does happen: test your smoke alarms and keep a fire extinguisher nearby.
You should always stay in your home when you are cooking. Turkeys can take a while to cook, but do not leave the house while they are in the oven and be sure to check on food that is cooking in the oven frequently. Stay in the kitchen while you are cooking on the stovetop and be sure that kids stay a safe distance away to prevent burns from direct contact, steam or splashing liquids.
If a fire does break out, do not blow on or fan the flames. Instead, use your fire extinguisher or throw salt or baking soda on the flames and put the lid on the pot.
Additional Safety Tips
Inevitably, knives will be used in the kitchen while preparing your feast. Take some time to sharpen your knives as dull edges can cause knives to slip more easily and are more likely to result in cuts. And be sure to keep knives away from counter edges and out of the reach of children. To avoid knocking any other items off the counter and prevent little hands grabbing anything dangerous, be sure that any appliances, pans, or warming devices do not have cords dangling from the counter or are too close to the edge.
Also, be sure to clear the floor of anything you might trip over in the kitchen, dining room, and your pathway in between.
Health Safety Tips
Be sure that you properly prepare, store, and reheat your meal to avoid any food-related illness.
Turkey is the centerpiece for many Thanksgiving meals, but it is also a big concern for the spread of salmonella. Be sure that you properly defrost your turkey so that it can fully cook when you place it in the oven. Turkeys should be defrosted in the refrigerator and will typically take 2 to 3 days to fully defrost. You should also be mindful of any surface that the raw turkey or its juices come into contact with, including refrigerator shelves, sinks, counters, and your hands. Be sure to properly wash and sanitize any of these surfaces to avoid cross contamination.
Once food is cooked, it is not recommended that you allow your food to sit out at room temperature for more than two hours. Between 40 degrees and 140 degrees, bacteria are more likely to grow causing food poisoning if consumed. By keeping food out for only a short period of time and reheating properly to 165 degrees you keep food in a safe temperature zone.