November ushers in Thanksgiving, but it also means the beginning of the five months during which the most home fires occur according to Electrical Safety Foundation International. Thanksgiving, Christmas and Christmas Eve statistically see the most fires, and many of these fires plus other accidents happen in the kitchen while you're cooking up a storm.
Set the Stage - The first step, before you ever get to slicing, dicing, or baking is to set a safe stage:
- Make sure the floor is dry and work areas are covered with a non-slip mat.
- Open a window or turn on a ventilation fan and replace batteries in your smoke alarm just to be safe.
- Keep children and pets safely away from the kitchen. It might be the perfect time for them to rake some leaves.
Many accidents happen because we're not paying attention. Either you have too many things going on or you're distracted. And those ingredients can easily lead to hair, a towel, or the sleeves on your expensive holiday dress going up in flames. While clothing is typically not the first item to catch fire, about 15% of cooking fire deaths result from this hazard alone.
The more frazzled or rushed you feel, the more likely you are to make mistakes. Here are some recommendations to keep you cool and collected.
- Prepare as much food the night before as possible. This may includes dessert and items that reheat well.
- Enlist a kitchen helper and then keep your space off limits to everyone else.
- Give yourself ample time to cook your turkey and all of the side dishes. There's a reason why your parents were up at 3 AM to get things started!
- Encourage others to bring a dish to pass, so you'll have less to do.
- Use a timer or two...or three so you can get things out of the oven or off the stove right when they're done. It's easier to pay attention to other activities when you rely on a timer!
Sharp Knives and a Sharp Mind
Getting plenty of sleep ensures your mind is as sharp as that turkey carving knife, so you're less likely to forget to grab a potholder or to use both hands when lifting that roasting pan out of the oven. Speaking of that carving knife, make sure all your knives are sharpened and that you're cutting away from yourself to avoid a trip to the ER on Turkey Day.
Frozen and Fried Don't Mix
One final reminder is that you should never put a turkey in a deep fryer no matter how often your father safely did it for years. Only fry well-thawed turkeys and only do so outside safely away from flammable objects and other family members/friends.
Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!
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