5 Safety Tips to Avoid Thanksgiving Mishaps

Thanksgiving can be a high-stress holiday, when your to-do list and the time you have to do it don’t match up. When you are pressed for time, everything from the demands of proper food handling to the increase in travel activity can lead to more risk of Thanksgiving mishaps. Steer clear of the following Thanksgiving fails with these tips.

1. Be Prepared for Food Prep

You thought your aunt’s weird casserole would be your biggest obstacle to avoid, but, in reality, food prep is the first of many potential Thanksgiving food fails to avoid. Sharp knives and peelers can cause some nasty cuts and dull ones can lead to even more serious injuries.   

Avoid the Thanksgiving Fail: Did you know sharper tools are actually safer? It’s true. Sawing at a squash with a dull knife only increases your chances of a mishap. If you do nick a finger or puncture your hand, apply direct pressure until the bleeding stops. Clean the area with warm water and soap, then apply an antibiotic ointment under a sterile bandage. If the cut is especially deep or won’t stop bleeding, see a doctor.

2. Keep Your Area Clean

Improperly prepared food can lead to food poisoning, and it’s no surprise that a holiday with so much emphasis on food can lead to an uptick in cases. Clean your kitchen workspace and cutting boards after preparing each dish, and have a plan for the order in which dishes will be prepared so cold ingredients are not left at room temperature for long periods of time. Follow these Thanksgiving cooking safety tips to make sure you cook the turkey all the way through.  

Avoid the Thanksgiving Fail: A meat thermometer is an inexpensive way to help prevent Thanksgiving fails caused by food poisoning. Simply check your turkey frequently as it roasts to ensure it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Another way to prevent an undercooked bird is to roast it in the oven, which, according to the Mayo Clinic, is your safest option. Grilling and deep-frying are frowned upon, mostly because these methods increase the likelihood of the outside of the turkey being cooked, but the inside not reaching a safe temperature. Plus, grilling and deep-frying lead to far more accidental fires than using the oven.  

3. Decrease the Risk of Fire

When you combine cooking multiple dishes on a tight schedule, a hot stove and the possibility of foods being left unattended, you increase the risk of a kitchen fire. Especially when family and friends are visiting your home, and there will be extra traffic in the house. Make sure you know where the kids are and that they know the kitchen is off limits — stoves and small children do not mix! Same goes if you are using a grill or deep-fryer outside. Pick a cooking area away from home structures and overhangs and  make sure the kids know the area is off limits. 

Avoid the Thanksgiving Fail: Follow smart fire safety practices in your home, including having a fire extinguisher on hand as well as a working smoke detector. Practice basic caution by not leaving cooking food unattended, be mindful of the extra appliance cords near the stove, and make sure potholders and other flammable objects are at least 3 feet away from burners. If you or a family member suffer a burn, hold the burned skin under cool (not cold) running water, or immerse in cool water until the pain subsides, then cover with a sterile, non-adhesive cloth or bandage. (The old wives’ tale about applying butter? Save it for the rolls.) Of course, if the burn is more severe (large blisters, or if the burn penetrates deeply), see a doctor immediately.

4. Drive Safely

Surprisingly, New Year’s Eve doesn’t take the prize for most auto accidents in the United States — Thanksgiving does. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, almost 90% of travelers go over the river and through the woods during Thanksgiving weekend. That’s a lot of people on the road — 50% more than usual. 

Avoid the Thanksgiving Fail: Check your forecast and prepare accordingly if road conditions have a chance of deteriorating. Give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination. And whatever you do, do not drink and drive. It can be tempting to have that extra glass of wine at dinner, but it’s not worth risking a drunk-driving incident; drunk-driving incidents spike over Thanksgiving. Finally, take an extra second and put on your seatbelt — always.

5. Locks and Lights

If you and your family are traveling for Thanksgiving, plan ahead to protect your empty home. Robberies tend to spike over holidays, and these few simple security steps can ensure your home and its contents are just as you left them. 

Avoid the Thanksgiving Fail: Prepare your home for vacation by making sure doors and windows are locked, and consider using a timer for a few interior lights and front and back porch lights to make it seem like someone is home. Place your mail and paper services on hold and, if you have a trustworthy neighbor, let them know to keep an eye on the place while you’re gone. And please don’t post your vacation plans on social media; you never know who’s really seeing your posts.

Most importantly, remember the things that matter. An extra ounce of caution can go a long way toward making sure your Thanksgiving is the safe, relaxing holiday it’s meant to be. 

Keep Your Future Failsafe 

For a little extra help protecting the things that matter, talk to your Farm Bureau agent today. They can help. (But not with your aunt’s casserole. You’re on your own with that one.)