For most people, the holidays are a time to reconnect with family and friends and focus on celebrating time spent together. However, with more people around and in the kitchen, it’s also a time with increased risk for accidents or foodborne illness. With Thanksgiving right around the corner, it’s a good time to brush up on some basic kitchen and food safety tips for this holiday season.
Thanksgiving Kitchen Safety Tips
Statistics indicate that Thanksgiving is the leading day for home and kitchen fires, with most of them caused by cooking. Here are some practical tips to keep you and your loved ones safe this Thanksgiving:
- Consider testing your smoke alarms prior to the holiday.
- Know where your fire extinguishers are located and how to use them.
- Don’t leave cooking food unattended. If you’re baking something for a longer period of time, don’t leave the house and make sure you use a timer so you don’t forget about it.
- Keep children at least 3 feet away from the kitchen, if possible. This will reduce their chances of being exposed to hot foods, spilling foods, or accidentally knocking anything over.
- Keep your floors cleared of toys or any objects so that no one falls.
- Take care not to wear an outfit with dangling sleeves or fabric so you don’t unknowingly brush against a flame.
- Move all dish towels or cloths away from the stove and oven.
- Turn the handles of your pots and pans toward the center of the stove to avoid people accidentally knocking them over.
- For pan fires, turn the stove off and cover the pan with a lid or baking sheet. For oven fires, turn off the oven and keep the door closed. Do not use water to try to put out these fires!
Preventing Foodborne Illness
One gift you don’t want to give this holiday is a foodborne illness to your guests! Luckily, foodborne illnesses are preventable if you follow proper storage and preparation techniques.
- Make sure to store and thaw your turkey properly. It’s best to keep the turkey in the freezer until it’s time to thaw it, at which point it can be moved into the fridge. Thawing takes a long time since turkeys are heavy! Plan to use the better part of a week; standard guidelines say 1 day of thawing for each 4-5 pounds. While in the fridge, have the turkey on a pan so it will contain the liquid as the turkey thaws.
- Don’t rinse the turkey as this can spread germs. You can wipe it down with a wet cloth if necessary and wash the cloth immediately.
- The safest thing to do is prepare the stuffing separately from the turkey. If you’re going to cook the stuffing inside of the turkey, wait until right before cooking to stuff the turkey and only stuff it about 75% full. Don’t mix wet and dry stuffing ingredients prior to cooking.
- Keep utensils, cutting boards, and cookware that you’re using with raw foods or meats separate from others.
- If you’re deep frying the turkey, the safest place is outside.
- Cook turkey and stuffing to at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a meat thermometer to ensure you’re cooking to the correct temperature.
- Wait 20 minutes after cooking turkey before serving it or removing the stuffing.
- Wash your hands frequently!
- Put leftovers away within 2 hours of cooking.
Happy holidays from the team at Urgent Care!
- CDC recommendations on how to prepare turkey: http://www.cdc.gov/features/turkeytime/
- Cooking safety tips from American Red Cross: http://www.redcross.org/news/article/Cooking-Safety-Tips-for-Thanksgiving-Chefs