Thanksgiving Safety Tips
A Comprehensive Resource

Wise words from Bobby Jindal: “On Thanksgiving I will stop to give thanks that my family is safe and healthy, especially because I realize that it is all too real a possibility that they might not have been.” Let’s keep that up!—read on about how to keep your family safe and healthy during one of our nation’s favorite holidays.

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Statistical Importance: low

3% of fatal work injuries occurred from fires and explosions. (3)

Seasonal, Autumnal Safety Tips

With the cold weather settling in, of course you’ll be wanting to keep your home cozy and warm. But be alert for fire hazards…


  • According to the U.S. Fire Administration, more than 4,000 fire happen each Thanksgiving Day, usually in the kitchen!
  • Never leave your food unattended while frying or grilling.
  • Use a timer and routinely check whatever you’re cooking.
  • If frying or deep-frying, keep the fryer outside, away from walls, and free from moisture.
  • Never use a glass casserole or lid on the stove or burner, as it may explode from the heat.
  • Ensure that pot holders and food wrappers are a safe distance— at least 3 feet!—from warmed surfaces (i.e. the stove). Position those handles so that they face inward.
  • Avoid dangling accessories or loose clothes around kitchen fires.
  • If using candles or the fireplace, keep these sources of fire shuttered or isolated, and never leave them unattended.
  • Never douse a grease fire with water, as the fire can thus spread. Turn off the burner, smother the flames with a lid (wearing an oven mitt!), or douse with baking soda or a fire extinguisher if it’s getting out of hand.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher handy in the kitchen, and know how to use it.
  • Ensure your smoke alarms are connected and working.
  • Better safe than sorry. You can call the pros at 1888-674-6854 (USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline) with any cooking questions!
  • Unplug appliances that are small and unnecessary; it’s a smart way to save energy and eliminate potential dangers if something is accidently turned on.
  • After the party, walk around the home and ensure candles and fireplaces are extinguished, unnecessary appliances are turned off, and no potential hazards (leftovers, sharp/flammable objects) are in reach of your kids or pets.

Statistical Importance: high

69% of home fires on Thanksgiving Day are cooking fires, as opposed to an average of 42% the rest of the year. (1)

A Thanksgiving Feast Free of Threats

Turkey safety— the turkey is the biggest star. Make sure he evokes a round of applause—not a round of visits to the bathroom or, worse, the hospital.

  • Buy carefully.
    1. Avoid fresh, stuffed turkeys; buy your turkey at least 1-2 days before you cook it, and keep it in the fridge; keep it in the freezer if you’ve bought it earlier.
  • Defrost properly.
    1. Thaw in the refrigerator (every 4-5 lbs. needs one day to thaw).
    2. Submerge the turkey (wrapped in leak-proof packaging) in cold water (every 1 lb. needs 30 minutes to thaw) that should be changed every half hour.
    3. Microwave in a microwave-safe pan, removing any packaging and following the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Cook immediately after thawing.
    1. Avoid slow cooking or partially cooking the turkey.
    2. At 165 degrees F at least.
    3. Opt to cook the stuffing separately.
  • Use a thermometer on the innermost part of the thigh and wing, as well as the thickest portion of the breast, to ensure that the turkey is well cooked.
  • Don’t carve at once; give the juices time (20 min.) to settle.
  • Keep Clean!
    1. Wash your hands with soap and water before and after handling food.
    2. Keep all surfaces and utensils clean.
    3. Never handle cooked and raw food together, in order to avoid cross-contamination.
    4. Keep raw meat away from vegetables or other uncooked food.

Thanksgiving is a social dinner; while talking, joking, and laughing, choking is a very dangerous possibility.

  • Call 911 if the person can’t cough, breathe, or speak.
  • Give the victim five sharp blows on the back with the heel of your hand.
  • If unsuccessful, wrap your hands around the victim’s abdomen and give five quick upward thrusts.

Store leftovers properly to eliminate food poisoning. A training for food safety will help you and your staff, if you're an employer, to eliminate potential health risks.

  • When serving, keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold!
  • Refrigerate leftovers promptly, no more than two hours after food has been served.
  • Leftovers are most safely eaten within 3 days, or should otherwise be moved to the freezer.
  • Store food in shallow containers.
  • Reheated leftovers should be cooked to 165 degrees F; gravy should be boiled.
Electrical malfunctions (14%), carelessness or other unintentional actions (14%), and open flames (13%) are the leading causes of the larger, nonconfined Thanksgiving Day fires in residential buildings. (1) The top uses for smartphones or tablet devices during Thanksgiving travel include: 80% - Checking the weather, 51% - Researching restaurants, 51% - GPS navigation, 38% - Checking the status of a flight and 5. 27% - Researching a destination.(3) 38% will spend more on Thanksgiving travel this year than in 2011, 46% will spend the same, and 10% will spend less. Among those traveling, 46% will spend $500 or less on their Thanksgiving travel.(3) 47% of travelers said rising airfares impacted their Thanksgiving travel - here are the top three ways they were affected: 41% - Booked their flight early, 35% - Will drive to their destination instead of fly and 3. 3% - Still waiting for prices to come down.(3) 254 Million turkeys expected to be raised in the United States in 2012, a 2% increase from the number raised during 2011.(4) Smoke alarms were reported as present in 46% of nonconfined Thanksgiving Day fires in residential buildings.(5)
  • Be especially alert for fire hazards, and never leave the kitchen (or other sources of fire and heat) unattended.
  • Be watchful of children and pets, especially around holiday food and kitchen tools.
  • Use common sense and preventive measures at home and when travelling.
  • Keep clean, thaw patiently, cook thoroughly, and store leftovers promptly.
  • Plan ahead to ensure a safe and enjoyable holiday.

Statistical Importance: high

Among those traveling for Thanksgiving, 47% will use a smartphone or tablet device to plan or assist in their Turkey Day travel.(2)

Travel Tips for Thanksgiving

Plan ahead. Know where you’re going and how you’re going to get there. Download the latest GPS data or obtain a new map. Check for construction detours, and consult the weatherman.

Don’t post news that you’re out of town, particularly not online on social networks which are open to the public.

Lower the volume on your telephone ringer; no need to imply you’re away with the chiming of repeated rings.

Leave your keys and responsibilities with a trusted neighbour or friend; have them pick up mail and deliveries, and occasionally move your parked car around. Don’t hide your keys outside; burglars will enjoy hunting for them.

Secure doors and windows; eliminate ladders or house-hugging tree limbs to make sure there’s no easy access to upstairs windows.

Operate lights with a timer so you’ve always got something lit at night.

Invest in a security alarm system— which is a fantastic idea anyway!

Statistical Importance: N/A

No relevant statistics available

An Extra Eye Out for Children and Pets

Protect the children.

  • The kitchen isn’t always kid-friendly. Baking treats together can be fun with parental supervision, but keep your child at a safe distance when cooking, and never hold on to them with one arm—that’s an invitation to be burnt!
  • Keep knives, sharp objects, and flammable objects out of reach.
  • Ensure that no dangers and dangling within a child’s reach— i.e. electrical cords from a lit coffee maker, plate warmer, mixer, etc.
  • Never leave a child unattended near a source of fire.

Eliminate choking hazards for pets

  • Don’t offer turkey bones to your pet; like other bird bones, they are hollow, meaning that they can splinter and tear an animal’s internal organs or esophagus.
  • Fatty holiday foods (turkey skin, gravy, candied yams, mashed potatoes) may cause pancreatitis; spare your pet this discomfort and the ensuing visit to the vet.
  • Especially ensure that your pets stay away from: baker’s twine, corn on the cob, rising bread dough, chocolate, sugar, and toxic (especially to dogs) onions, raisins, grapes, and alcohol.
  • Feed animals before your guests arrive; dogs get excited around people and may eat much faster, which could result in dangerous bloating.

Statistical Importance: HIGH

Among travelers, 41% of which booked their flight early prior to Thanksgiving Day.(3)

Stressing Out? Tips for Your Personal Wellbeing

Practice your good judgement. That happens when you’re sober, and not under the influence of anything else. So drink responsibly—especially if you’re hosting or driving!

De-stress! You already know stress isn’t healthy. Here are a few tips to fight it off:

  • Make time to sleep and eat properly.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Enjoy the people and live in the moment.
  • Pre-plan as much as possible; whatever you can do today, don’t leave off for the “big day.”
  • Have a lot of back-up plans.
  • Make time for exercise.
  • Settle on a positive attitude no matter what goes awry. Face it, this holiday is about sharing the love and gratitude more than it is about making an award-winning cranberry sauce or bagging the perfect bird!
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