Thanksgiving safety tips you don't want to forget | PEMCO

November 8, 2023 by PEMCO Insurance of the most nostalgic holidays of the year. Whether you spend it “turkey trotting” early in the morning, watching football with friends and family, or cooking up a feast fit for a royalty, one thing is certain: Thanksgiving celebrations usually revolve around the kitchen. 

Unfortunately, the same is true for house fires. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, cooking is the leading cause of house a long shot. 

During what—for many of us—will be welcomed holiday traditions, don’t let cooking timeline stressors, the distraction of guests, and unfamiliar recipes heighten your kitchen dangers. The National Fire Protection Association names Thanksgiving as the No. 1 day for cooking-equipment fires. Yikes!
Fear not. If you follow these five easy tips, you can help mitigate your risk of a holiday mishap. With these safety steps in mind, you can worry less and, well... eat more. :) 

  1. Deep fry your bird with caution. More people are choosing to forgo the traditional roasted turkey and instead, opt for a crispier, deep-fried version. But deep frying comes with some risks. Make sure to set up the fryer on a flat surface outdoors, not in a garage or on the deck, and away from flammable materials. Don't overfill the fryer with oil, since the level will rise (a lot!) when you add the food. To prevent a fiery blowup, make sure the turkey is both thawed and thoroughly dry before lowering it into the oil. Never leave the fryer unattended, and keep a fire extinguisher nearby. Here's right way to deep fry a turkey, courtesy of our friends at Home Depot.  

  1. Allow adequate thawing time. The United States Department of Agriculture recommends 24 hours of refrigerated thawing time for every four to five pounds of turkey. That means three or four days for even a modest 12-16 pound bird. Never try to speed things up by thawing on the counter, since dangerous bacteria begin to grow in two hours.  

  1. When cooking, set up a kid-free zone. Thanksgiving meals mean pulling heavy, steaming dishes out of the oven and carrying boiling pots of water. The kitchen can be hectic!  A child darting around your feet can set the stage for burn injuries and more. Appoint a teen or other relative to keep the little ones entertained in another room.  

  2. Keep oven mitts and towels away from burners. The same goes for paper towels and packaging. Point pot handles inward so they're less likely to get knocked off.  

  3.  Avoid distraction. It's easy for a stovetop fire to break out while you dash to the door to greet arriving guests. Delegate doorbell duty to someone else. When cooking--especially when multiple dishes are cooking at once--make sure someone is always "on duty" in the kitchen. Many kitchen fires start when heat sources are left unattended. 

More Thanksgiving safety tips

Our friends at the Red Cross put together a list of safety tips that we think is worth sharing! Here are a few more additional tips to help your holiday be as relaxing and safe as possible, so you can focus on what matters most:

  • Set a timer to remind yourself there is an oven on.
  • Avoid wearing loose clothing or drapey sleeves that could catch fire if they make contact with a heat source.
  • Wipe down surfaces frequently to prevent grease build-up.
  • Remember: SMOKE ALARMS SAVE LIVES. (Here's how to replace them, in case yours is due.)

To learn more about food-safety tips, click here.

Wishing you and yours a joyous holiday season filled with gratitude and peace of mind.

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