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Thanksgiving Safety Tips

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Safe Turkey Preparation

Big holidays mean big meals, and the granddaddy of them all here in the U.S. is the traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Be sure to follow some simple food safety steps to ensure your turkey dinner is as safe as it is delicious.

According to the CDC, "Food handling errors and inadequate cooking are the most common problems that lead to poultry-associated foodborne disease outbreaks in the United States." They recommend the following food-preparation guidelines:

  • Thaw turkeys in the refrigerator, in a sink of cold water that is changed every 30 minutes, or in the microwave. Never thaw your turkey by leaving it out on the counter. Raw poultry can contaminate anything it touches with harmful bacteria.
  • Follow the four steps to food safety – cook, clean, chill, and separate– to prevent the spread of bacteria to your food and family.
  • If you put stuffing in the turkey, do so just before cooking. Use a food thermometer to make sure the stuffing's center reaches 165°F.
  • Set the oven temperature to at least 325°F. Place the completely thawed turkey with the breast side up in a roasting pan that is 2 to 2-1/2 inches deep. Check [that the internal temperature reaches 165°F] by inserting a food thermometer into the center of the stuffing and the thickest portions of the breast, thigh and wing joint.
  • Let the turkey stand 20 minutes before removing all stuffing from the cavity and carving the meat.

    ~Health Safety Institute

Kitchen Safety

The kitchen is the heart of the home, especially at Thanksgiving. Kids love to be involved in holiday preparations. Safety in the kitchen is important, especially on Thanksgiving Day when there is a lot of activity and people at home.

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More Thanksgiving Safety Tips[PDF]
 
  • Stay in the kitchen when you are cooking on the stovetop so you can keep an eye on the food.
  • Stay in the home when cooking your turkey and check on it frequently.
  • Keep children away from the stove. The stove will be hot and kids should stay 3 feet away.
  • Make sure kids stay away from hot food and liquids. The steam or splash from vegetables, gravy or coffee could cause serious burns.
  • Keep the floor clear so you don't trip over kids, toys, pocketbooks or bags.
  • Keep knives out of the reach of children.
  • Be sure electric cords from an electric knife, coffee maker, plate warmer or mixer are not dangling off the counter within easy reach of a child.
  • Keep matches and utility lighters out of the reach of children — up high in a locked cabinet.
  • Never leave children alone in room with a lit a candle.
  • Make sure your smoke alarms are working. Test them by pushing the test button.

Candles

Candles are often part of holiday decorations, but they can potentially be very dangerous if not properly attended.

  • Never leave candles burning when you are away from home, or after going to bed.
  • Candles should be located where children will not be tempted to play with them, and where guests will not accidentally brush against them.
  • The candle holder should be completely noncombustible and difficult to knock over.
  • The candle should not have combustible decorations around it.

Turkey Fryers

There is nothing better than turkey on Thanksgiving Day. These days, many families are choosing to deep fry their turkeys instead of cooking them the old fashioned way. There are dangers associated with using turkey fryers. Salt River Fire Department and the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) staff recommend consumers who choose to fry turkeys follow the following safety guidelines:

  • Hot oil may splash or spill at any point during the cooking process, when the fryer is jarred or tipped over, the turkey is placed in the fryer or removed, or the turkey is moved from the fryer to the table. Any contact between hot oil and skin could result in serious injury. Any contact between hot oil and nonmetallic materials could lead to serious damage.
  • A major spill of hot oil can occur with fryers designed for outdoor use and using a stands these units are particularly vulnerable to upset or collapse, followed by a major spill of hot oil. Newer countertop units using a solid base appear to reduce this particular risk.
  • In deep frying, oil is heated to temperatures of 350 degrees Fahrenheit or more. Cooking oil is combustible, and if it is heated beyond its cooking temperature, its vapors can ignite. This is a fire danger separate from the burn danger inherent in the hot oil. Overheating can occur if temperature controls, which are designed to shut off the fryer if the oil overheats, are defective, or if the appliance has no temperature controls.
  • Propane-fired turkey fryers are designed for outdoor use, particularly for Thanksgiving, by which time both rain and snow are common in many parts of the country. If rain or snow strikes exposed hot cooking oil, the result can be a splattering of the hot oil or a conversion of the rain or snow to steam, either of which can lead to burns. Use of propane-fired turkey fryers indoors to avoid bad weather is contrary to their design and dangerous in its own right. Also, moving an operating turkey fryer indoors to escape bad weather is extremely risky. Fires have occurred when turkey fryers were used in a garage or barn or under eaves to keep the appliance out of the rain.
  • The approximately 5 gallons of oil in these devices introduce an additional level of hazard to deep fryer cooking, as does the size and weight of the turkey, which must be safely lowered into and raised out of the large quantity of hot oil. Many turkeys are purchased frozen, and they may not be fully thawed when cooking begins. As with a rainy day, a defrosting turkey creates the risk of contact between hot cooking oil.

By following the above tips, you can help ensure that your family will have a happy, safe, and tasty Thanksgiving holiday!