A turkey dinner with all of the fixings, football on TV and quality time with family and friends–Thanksgiving may actually be the best time of the year, despite what that popular holiday song may tell you. Most of us have vivid memories of spending Thanksgiving morning watching the Macy’s parade on TV, helping Mom get started on dinner or sitting back in a food-induced haze, enjoying some well-earned rest and relaxation. It is a holiday that truly the entire family can enjoy.
One thing you do not often associate with Thanksgiving is danger. Sure, Thanksgiving lacks the inherently risky fireworks of the Fourth of July or New Year’s Eve, the stranger dangers of Halloween and the winter weather woes of Christmas (for our friends up North, at least), but that does not mean you can get lax on safety before, during and after you get stuffed on stuffing.
Do Not Skimp on Safety This Thanksgiving
Like thousands across the country, you may have your bags packed, fuel tank filled and day off requests approved in preparation of a long drive to visit your family and old friends for the holiday. Here are a few things you should remember before hitting the road.
- Car Maintenance: Sure, you may have topped off the gas tank, but there are many other considerations to make before your car is safe to make the long haul to get you to the Thanksgiving dinner table on time.
- Check windshield wiper blades and replace if worn
- Get full tune up before leaving, changing/checking oil, antifreeze, tires, filters, battery charge and more
- Check tire pressure to ensure that it is at the manufacturer’s recommended level
- Remove loose objects from the cabin that could become dangerous projectiles in an accident
- Driving Conditions: Check the forecast for your drive. If driving to the northern states, snow, ice and fog can be extremely dangerous for those unprepared and inexperienced with such conditions. Even fallen leaves can make for slippery terrain, so be prepared.
- Driving Distractions: Though we have warned against this in the past, it is important to reiterate the dangers of distracted driving. Everyone knows how mind-numbingly boring long stretches of driving can be, especially when making a trip without a partner, but there is no excuse for texting and driving. Distracted driving is especially dangerous at the high speeds and frequent construction of highways, so always keep your eyes on the road. If necessary, utilize a rest stop to catch up on texts or find that album or podcast you have been looking for.
- Sleep: If at all possible, get a full, restful night’s sleep before making your trip. Driving while drowsy has proven to be nearly as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol. Take your sleep seriously.
Once you finally make it to your Thanksgiving home base of choice, it is time to get cooking. Unfortunately, there are quite a few accidents waiting to happen in the kitchen. Here are a few tips to keep your turkey cooked, family safe and stomachs happy.
- Temperatures: Since turkeys often require thawing and hours of cooking time in the oven, they can be quite finicky to finish. Almost everyone has cooked a turkey to a beautiful golden brown only to cut into it and realize it is still dangerously undercooked inside. Cooking thermometers are your friend, as you can easily monitor the doneness of your turkey, ensuring that the inside temperature reaches the recommended 165º F. Cold foods, such as pasta salads, must also be monitored and kept chilled and covered in order to prevent bacteria growth and a bad case of food poisoning.
- Preparation and Cleaning: When handling raw meats, never reuse knives, utensils and cutting boards before fully and thoroughly washing them with soap and water. Without taking this care, cross contamination is a very real risk. The same can be said for washing your hands after handling raw meat. Though some like rinsing their turkey before cooking, this has been proven to spread pathogens across kitchen surfaces, according to foodsafety.gov.
- Leftovers: Though many of us love enjoying days of post-Thanksgiving leftovers, refrigerated leftovers should only be eaten up to four days after cooking. Leftovers should also be refrigerated as soon as possible to avoid bacteria growth. Removing stuffing from the inside of your turkey and storing each side separately is also recommended.
- Slips and Falls: With all of the turkey basting, cranberry sauce serving, gravy pouring and wine uncorking, there is a high chance of spillage. Even cleanup can cause risk, with even a single drop of soap making your kitchen floor something like a skating rink. Keep an eye out for spills when cooking, serving and cleaning and wipe up all wet surfaces as soon as possible, warning everyone of the hazard.
Many indulge in both food and alcohol consumption on Thanksgiving, leading to a dangerous mix of lethargy and intoxication. Never try to drive under the influence. Even a couple of drinks can be enough to impair your reaction time and judgment, especially when paired with drowsiness after a long day of festivities and overeating.
If you keep the above considerations in mind before, during and after the big meal, your Thanksgiving is sure to be anything but a turkey. Stay safe, gobble up some great food and enjoy some quality time sharing thanks with those you love.
From everyone at Wieland Hilado & DeLattre, we wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving.
Food safety tips cited from: https://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/events/thanksgiving/