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Essential Thanksgiving Safety Tips for a Great Holiday

Nov 21, 2017|

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and that means food, friends, and family.

With the cooking, extra food prep, and travel that occurs for the Thanksgiving holiday, there's also an increase in safety and security risks around the house.

These Thanksgiving safety tips will help ensure your holiday–whether you're home or away–is as safe (and delicious!) as possible.

thanksgiving safety tips
Keep your home, friends, and family safe with these important Thanksgiving safety tips.

Thanksgiving Day fire safety tips

What's the biggest threat to your home during Thanksgiving? Fire. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, when compared to other days, the average number of residential fires more than doubles on Thanksgiving Day.

With that in mind, your safety tip of the day on Thanksgiving should be "practice fire prevention." Here are some Thanksgiving day fire safety tips to help lower your risk of kitchen fires:

  • If you plan on frying, make sure to read and follow all instructions carefully. (Turkey fryers are actually the number one cause of Thanksgiving Day fires!)
  • Keep a fire extinguisher or fire suppressant on hand in the kitchen while cooking.
  • Keep baking soda nearby in case a grease fire occurs. Never use water to put out a grease fire.
  • If you're cooking on a gas range with flames, don't wear loose-fitting clothing that could potentially catch on fire as you're working around the stove.
  • Keep the area around your stove clear of flammable items, such as wrappers, dish towels, or other clutter.
  • Never leave candles unattended, even if you're home.
  • Check your smoke detectors. A smoke detector is a necessity, but it can only save lives when it's working. Make sure the smoke detectors in your kitchen and around the house are functioning properly, and replace any that are more than 10 years old. 

Preventing fires and resulting injuries in the kitchen is actually quite simple, as long as you keep a close eye on your cooking and know what to do if a fire does occur.

thanksgiving safety tips smoke detector
One of the most important Thanksgiving fire safety tips? Make sure your smoke detectors are working properly.

Food safety

Between turkey, dressing, casseroles, pies, potatoes, and desserts, it’s no surprise that more food is consumed in the United States on Thanksgiving than any other day. 

With so much food (and friends and family around to help eat it), it’s important to make sure you take proper steps to minimize the risk of food poisoning. Undercooking turkey and other meats, preparing foods on contaminated surfaces, and not storing food properly can all lead to food poisoning. 

If you don’t cook often or you just need a refresher, these tips will help you keep your food tasty and safe to eat: 

Keep your kitchen clean

No, it doesn’t have to be spotless, but clean hands and surfaces can actually prevent the majority of food poisoning cases. Make sure to:

  • Wash hands before and after food prep.
  • Wipe off counters with a cleaner before and after preparing food, especially if handling raw meat.
  • Keep all raw meat away from cooked or ready-to-eat foods.
  • Never cross-contaminate utensils or cooking surfaces; for example, don’t use the same cutting board or knife to cut raw vegetables right after cutting up raw meats.

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Prepare and store food properly

Leftovers are one of the best parts of Thanksgiving, so make sure you can enjoy them safely: 

  • Cook turkey until internal temperature is 165 degrees.
  • Put leftover food in the refrigerator or freezer within two hours of serving to prevent bacteria growth.
  • Store leftovers in clean containers (rather than the serving dish or dish they were cooked in).
  • Leftovers stay good in the refrigerator for about 4 days, so freeze anything you won’t be eating within that time frame.

When preparing and serving your Thanksgiving dinner, just remember these four words:

  1. Clean your surfaces and hands
  2. Separate raw meats
  3. Cook turkey to 165 degrees, and
  4. Chill leftovers and food that can spoil
thanksgiving safety tips turkey fire
Food safety, from stuffing to turkey, is a crucial part of your Thanksgiving safety plan.

Keeping guests safe

Thanksgiving often means a houseful of people and pets, so it's important to take steps to keep your home a safe place for everyone.

A few things to keep in mind include:

  • Kitchens aren't always kid-friendly, so make sure you have activities for the kids that don't involve being in the kitchen when food is being prepared.
  • Put medications out of reach from kids and pets, including bottles you might keep in your purse or bag that can easily be accessed by kids and animals.
  • Don't feed dogs or cats turkey bones, which can choke them, or other common toxic foods for pets, including raisins, chocolate, and alcohol.
  • Make sure any firearms in the home are in a locked drawer or safe while visitors are over.
  • Avoid accidental burns by keeping coffee makers, kettles, and plate warmers out of reach of children.

While prevention is the best way to keep guests (especially small children and pets) safe, it's also a good idea to have the poison control number written down and easily accessible in case children or pets ingest anything dangerous.

thanksgiving safety tips kids crafts
If you have kids coming for Thanksgiving, have some activities planned for them out of the kitchen.

Safety at home when you're away

If you're heading out of town for Thanksgiving, you might not have to deal with cooking and hosting. But it’s wise to make sure your home is secure while you’re away; burglaries increase by approximately 20% during the last weeks of the year. Part of the reason for this is holiday travel. 

The following precautions will help you keep your home safe during the Thanksgiving weekend and the holiday weeks to come.

Don’t make it obvious you’re not home

Burglars tend to target homes when no one is there, so they can get in and out as quickly as possible without being caught. With that in mind, one way you can prevent burglaries is to look like you’re home. A few things you can do include: 

  • Set timers for your porch and outdoor lights.
  • Have your mail held at the post office, or ask your neighbors to collect it for you so it doesn’t pile up.
  • Park a car in the driveway, if possible.
  • Don't post on public social media pages that you're away from home.

Use smart home security devices

Worrying about whether you remembered to lock the back door or if your packages are going to get stolen from your front porch can put a damper on your Thanksgiving weekend. 

A smart home security system from Vivint can help alleviate those worries with a variety of devices that keep you connected to your home while also keeping it secure, including: 

  • Burglary detection that includes glass and door sensors and motion sensors that sound an alarm if triggered.
  • Smart door locks you can lock and unlock remotely via your smartphone.
  • Smart lighting that allows you to control your lighting remotely, so you can create the appearance of being home.
  • Outdoor security cameras that proactively protect your home by identifying lurkers and letting them know they’ve been spotted.
  • Doorbell cameras that notify you whenever anyone comes to the door (whether they ring the bell or not) and help deter porch pirates with proactive package protection.
  • Garage door control that notifies you if your door is opened.
  • 24/7 professional monitoring that contacts you and emergency personnel if any of the alarms in your home are triggered.

Thanksgiving should be a happy time for everyone. Taking the time to implement these Thanksgiving safety tips will ensure your home and holiday are worry-free.

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