Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to gather with friends and family, focus on our blessings, and eat great food. It has everything a great holiday needs, including marathons of people dressed like turkeys. During the festivities, things can get more than a little chaotic with so many moving pieces and people. During the hustle and bustle, be mindful of these five common Thanksgiving emergencies so you can avoid them.
As Thanksgiving is a holiday about food, of course food poisoning is the first of our Thanksgiving emergencies to avoid. While we spoke more expansively on the subject last week, here are the highlights of protecting yourself and your guests from food-borne illness:
- Defrost meat responsibly. Do not leave it on the counter.
- Keep raw meat away from other meal preparations.
- Cook meat to its recommended internal temperature to kill bacteria. The recommended temperature for turkey is 165F.
- Be mindful of food allergies of those who are coming to eat. Coordinate with those who have allergies about which allergens are in which dishes and which have been present during food preparations.
- Refrigerate all leftovers within two hours after serving, though sooner is better.
- Dispose of leftover food three to four days after its preparation.
Alcohol is a major player in many a Thanksgiving feast. Unfortunately, it is also a major player in many Thanksgiving emergencies. Amidst all the festivities, be sure to drink responsibly. Do not mix the meal’s pinot noir with medications or other drugs, no matter the vintage. Driving under the influence of alcohol is completely preventable, and on one of the most heavily-trafficked days of the year, if you want to drink without worry of causing or taking part in any Thanksgiving emergencies, make travel arrangements that do not necessitate you driving after the feast.
With the oven and stovetop on double- or triple-duty during the holidays, it is no wonder that a vast majority of Thanksgiving emergencies involve fire, especially kitchen fires. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, cooking fires triple during Thanksgiving, and 2017 to 2019 alone reported an estimated average of 2,300 residential fires on Thanksgiving Day. These can generally be avoided by implementing good fire safety practices:
- Keep pot handles turned away from the burners.
- Separate flammable items like oven mitts, hand towels, potholders, and food wrappers from sources of heat.
- Wear short sleeves or sleeves that are rolled up while working over the stove or pulling things out of the oven.
- Never leave food, especially grease or oils, unattended on the stovetop while it is on.
- If you intend to deep-fry your turkey, make sure it is thoroughly thawed before adding it to oil. Hidden ice can lead to grease fires, explosive oil, burns, and other injuries.
- If you do experience a grease fire, absolutely do not try to extinguish it with water. Doing so will cause the fire to spread and spurt. Turn off the burner and smother the fire with a lid or with a cookie sheet.
While arguably most Thanksgiving emergencies start in the kitchen, the rest of the house is not exempt. Between football season, food preparations on a deadline, and the running around of lots of people in one space, the risk of physical injury is moderate to high. The kitchen will probably exceed capacity, and it is likely there will be small children running around, sometimes in homes that are unaccustomed to having children underfoot.
While this is easier said than done, encourage the people in your home to slow down and be mindful of their surroundings. Monitor the spaces in which children play by keeping a few adults or older teenagers on duty and restricting childrens’ play to certain safer areas of the home. Keep them out of the kitchen.
As your guests toss around the pigskin, keep competitions friendly, taking a break if things get too heated. If you intend to go Black Friday shopping, keep things amicable with other shoppers, and be mindful that some people abuse the day and the presence of large crowds.
As mentioned above, Thanksgiving is one of the most heavily-trafficked days in the U.S. as people visit friends and family. Stay vigilant while on the road and give yourself plenty of time to get to your intended destinations so you don’t feel compelled to be reckless. Keep an emergency kit in your vehicle in case of any vehicular Thanksgiving emergencies. If you travel via air this season, be wise in airports: wash your hands often and keep an eye on your luggage.
If Thanksgiving Emergencies Arise
While it is important to be prepared, accidents do happen. If your best efforts to be safe this holiday season don’t preclude injury or illness, emergency rooms remain open on Thanksgiving in case an emergency does arise. Do not be afraid to seek medical help if it is necessary.
Enjoy your holiday this year without having to deal with any Thanksgiving emergencies. While it may seem there is not enough time to get everything prepared or to arrive at loved ones’ homes punctually, be safe. Be prepared and slow down this season to be able to gratefully appreciate the meaning behind Thanksgiving.