Thanksgiving is a day of joy, celebration and loads of cooking. Unfortunately, it also happens to be the day of the year when most house fires are reported. Whether you’ve decided to spend Thanksgiving at home or at someone else’s home, here are a few useful Thanksgiving safety tips to help keep you and your loved ones safe through all the merriment.
If you’re celebrating Thanksgiving at home:
Check smoke detectors
Smoke detectors are your best bet in case of a fire. Ensure the batteries are in working condition so you are preemptively warned in case of an emergency. If your home is on the large side, you should have a smoke detector installed on every floor. After all, it is likely you won’t be able to hear the alarm from the smoke detector in the kitchen if you’re in the bedroom upstairs.
Keep the fire extinguisher handy
Stay well prepared for an emergency by grabbing the fire extinguisher and stowing it in an accessible area around the kitchen. This will ensure that you’re able to reach for it instantly, instead of fumbling about the house looking for it in case of a mishap. Check to see if your extinguisher is in optimal working condition. Look for any damage across the cylinder. Cross-check the pressure in the extinguisher by looking at the pressure gauge. Those using a CO2 extinguisher will need to weigh the cylinder to affirm its pressure. If you don’t have a fire extinguisher in your kitchen you want to get one labeled “A:B:C”. A covers ordinary combustibles like wood, paper and cloth; B covers flammable liquids, like gasoline and cooking oil; and C is live electricity.
Beware of flammable objects
Depending on how many guests you’re cooking for, there’s bound to be a lot of activity and commotion in your kitchen. You’ll be busy paying attention to the cooking, with not much else on your mind. In such instances, it is a good idea to clear the areas around your stove, oven and fryer of all flammable objects. Gather up all your wooden ladles and cookware, countertop cloths, dish towels, plastic containers and anything else that may be easily set ablaze. Lastly, if you decide to use candles around the dinner table, do so with caution, especially if you're using a linen tablecloth. Although plastic tablecloths seem durable, they’re flammable too.
Keep the kitchen well ventilated
It doesn’t matter if you’re cooking, roasting or frying the turkey, it’s all going to give off fumes. While we all like to savor the aroma of herbs and spices being cooked, it’s still wise to keep your kitchen well ventilated. Remember, a stove that’s fueled by natural gas or propane gives off carbon monoxide, which builds up in the kitchen and may cause you discomfort. Swing open the kitchen door to allow better ventilation.
Thaw the turkey well
The idea is to ensure that the meat is completely free of ice when you’re about to cook it. If you’ve purchased a large bird, pull the meat out of the freezer well in advance so it thaws thoroughly. A 20-pound frozen turkey can take as many as five days to thaw completely in your refrigerator. Do not ever fry turkey or any meat when it’s frozen. The ice over the meat will cause the hot oil to splatter, increasing the risk of fire or burns to anyone nearby.
Use the in-sink garbage disposal system wisely
With all the cooking, there’s naturally going to be a heap of waste to dispose of. If you do decide to put it all into your in-sink garbage disposal system, make sure to run the water for a bit to rid your pipes of any stubborn debris that may remain behind. Remember, potato peels, vegetable skins and other food waste collects at joints in the pipes. Furthermore, pouring turkey grease into your sink drain after you’re done cooking will cause this clogged food to form a sticky sludge and clog your plumbing. Think twice before you overload your in-sink disposal systems. If you’ve got an alternate way of disposing off such wet waste, use that instead. Organic items like potato peels and vegetable skins are great for mulching for your garden.
Use a fryer outdoors
Many people will swear that deep-fried turkey is more delicious than roasted turkey. If you’re going to use a deep fryer for Thanksgiving, do your cooking outdoors to reduce the risk of fire hazard (the garage is out of bounds, too). The oil in the fryer achieves a temperature of 350 degrees F. When the meat is placed into the oil, there is a possibility of a spill over the rims, which may cause a fire. Using a fryer outdoors will ensure you are at a safe distance from anything flammable.
In case you’re celebrating someplace else:
Set a time on your home’s lights
Keeping the lights on in your home when you’re away will give off the impression that someone’s still around. Set the timer for different hours of the evening and the night to keep your home safe from robbers. If you’re in the habit of using lamps around the house during the day, schedule these on the timer too.
Turn down the phone’s ringer
If calls on your landline go unattended repeatedly, the rings act as a beacon to those in the vicinity that signals you are not at home! This makes your home an easy target for vigilant burglars and vandals. Turn down the ringer on your phone so its ring isn’t audible outside of your home.
Have someone receive your mail
While you’re away from home, your mailbox is bound to fill up. Unattended mail acts as a signal marking unoccupied homes, encouraging theft or break-ins. Ask a trustworthy neighbor to gather your mail on your behalf, or have all mail deliveries stopped until you return home.
Never leave behind a spare key
Make sure to lock all doors and windows to your home before you leave to celebrate Thanksgiving at your friend or loved one’s home. Do not leave a spare key hidden outside your home, as it may be found by a seasoned thief. If need be, entrust the keys to a reliable neighbor instead.
Share these Thanksgiving safety tips with your loved ones and friends so everyone enjoys a safe Thanksgiving and cheerful holidays.
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