How to Safely Celebrate this Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving SafetyIf Thanksgiving’s about anything, it’s food. Whether your holiday table features the traditional turkey-and-mashed-potatoes fare or any one of endless cultural and health-related variations on that theme, American kitchens are busy places on the fourth Thursday in November. Amid the hustle and bustle of chopping and stirring, basting and baking, take time to ensure a safe holiday. According to the National Fire Protection Association, Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires.  But, as the pantheon of holiday disaster stories illustrates, there are plenty of other mishaps we’d all be grateful to avoid. Below are a few simple tips to help you celebrate safely:

  1. Never leave any food cooking on the stove unattended even for a moment. Stay in the kitchen and keep an eye on the food on your cooktop.
  2. When using your oven continue to check on your food. Your turkey will be cooking for hours, but someone must remain in the home to make these frequent checks.  Keep kids three feet away from the stove.
  3. Use the back burners of the stove and turn all pot handles towards the wall.
  4. A tip for the littlest ones: Never give your child pots and pans to play with, even if he or she is playing on the floor.  Your child will get confused and may not know the difference between a pan on the hot stove and one she is playing with on the floor.
  5. Beware of cross-contamination when cooking. Never thaw a turkey or any meat on your countertop.  Turkey, chicken or meat should be thawed in a refrigerator, inside its original packaging, or on a plate or in a microwave oven.
  6. If you thaw turkey in a microwave, you will need to cook it right away. Turkey should also be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
  7. Countertops, cutting boards, knives and other utensils should be cleaned thoroughly after use with hot soapy water and be sure to keep all knives and potentially sharp utensils away from kids.
  8. Keep a multipurpose dry-chemical fire extinguisher in the kitchen. This is one that can put out both electrical and grease fires.
  9. If you haven’t changed the batteries in your smoke detectors, be sure to do so and test them to be sure they are working. Several smoke alarms have been recalled over the past few months.  Check the website for the Consumer Product Safety Commission to see if yours was recalled.
  10. Last, enjoy the day with your friends and family!

To learn more about holiday safety along with food and product recalls during this season go to The National Youth and Consumer Safety Council’s website at


Jamie is currently the Executive Director of The Safety Institute. The Safety Institute examines areas of injury prevention and product safety across a broad spectrum.  The Institute bases its plans and priorities on issues that require greater study and emphasis, as well as those which may be underserved by other organizations and advocates.  Jamie authored two parenting and safety books, The Baby Rules: The Insiders Guide to Raising Your Parents and The Consumer Reports Guide to Childproofing and Safety and successfully fought for safety legislation on Capitol Hill.

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