Thanksgiving is all about food and family – turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie and family time. However, preparing holiday goodies can lead to disaster - the kitchen is the setting of more fires than any other room in the house, and cooking is the leading cause of fires in the home. Additionally, many people will travel to visit loved ones for the Thanksgiving holiday. The American Red Cross has safety steps for holiday travelers and chefs to follow during the holidays.
Taking small steps toward preparedness can prevent accidents in the kitchen and on the road.
The cooks should start by not wearing loose clothing or dangling sleeves in the kitchen. Never leave cooking food unattended – stay in the kitchen when frying, grilling or broiling food. If someone must leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, they should turn off the stove. Other safety steps include:
• Check food regularly while cooking and remain in the home while cooking. Use a timer as a reminder that the stove or oven is on.
• Keep the kids away from the cooking area. Enforce a “kid-free zone” and make them stay at least three feet away from the stove.
• Keep anything that can catch fire - pot holders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, and towels or curtains—away from the stove, oven or any other appliance in the kitchen that generates heat.
• Clean cooking surfaces on a regular basis to prevent grease buildup.
• Purchase a fire extinguisher to keep in the kitchen. Contact the local fire department to take training on the proper use of extinguishers.
• Always check the kitchen before going to bed or leaving the home to make sure all stoves, ovens, and small appliances are turned off.
• Install a smoke alarm near the kitchen, on each level of the home, near sleeping areas, and inside and outside bedrooms. Use the test button to check it each month. Replace all batteries at least once a year.
Another helpful step is to download the Red Cross First Aid app which puts expert advice for everyday emergencies in someone’s hand. Available for iPhone and Android devices, the official Red Cross First Aid app gives instant access to the information needed to handle the most common first aid emergencies. With videos, interactive quizzes and simple step-by-step advice it’s never been easier to know first aid.
House fires are the worst disaster threat to families in the United States. To learn how to prevent a fire in the home and how to keep members of the household safe, people can download The Red Cross Fire Prevention and Safety Checklist.
ON THE ROAD Most holiday travelers get to where they are going by car. To arrive safely, the Red Cross recommends these safety steps for travelers who will drive to visit their loved ones this Thanksgiving:
• Make sure the vehicle is in good working order.
• Start out with a full tank of gas, check the tire air pressure and make sure the windshield fluid is full.
• Buckle up, slow down, don’t drive impaired. Designate a driver who won’t drink.
• Be well rested and alert.
• Use caution in work zones.
• Give one’s full attention to the road. Avoid distractions such as cell phones.
• Observe speed limits – driving too fast or too slow can increase the chance of being in a collision.
• Make frequent stops. During long trips, rotate drivers. If the driver is tired, stop and get some rest.
• Be respectful of other motorists and follow the rules of the road.
• Don’t follow another vehicle too closely.
• Clean the vehicle’s headlights, taillights, signal lights and windows.
• Turn the headlights on as dusk approaches, or if using windshield wipers due to inclement weather.
• Don’t overdrive the headlights.
• If car trouble develops, pull off the road as far as possible.
It’s also recommended to keep an emergency preparedness kit in the vehicle. Useful items include water, snacks, a flashlight, first aid kit, extra cash and blankets. Red Cross Emergency Preparedness kits are available in the Red Cross Store.
TRAINS, PLANES, BUSES For people traveling by air, bus or train, the Red Cross reminds them that the seasonal flu can occur as early as October. If people have come in contact with someone who is sick, perhaps the trip should be postponed as they may be contagious for a week before symptoms appear.
Other safety tips to avoid the flu while traveling include the following:
• Remember that everything someone touches has to be touched by someone else – luggage handlers, etc. Handle one’s own belongings as much as possible. Wash hands often with soap and water.
• Carry hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial wipes and use them to wash hands or wipe down surfaces such as armrests.
• Bring one’s own pillows and blankets – they can act as a shield against the seat itself.
• If someone has to cough or sneeze, do so into a tissue or sleeve.
• Avoid touching the face or eyes.
For more information on how to remain safe while traveling this Thanksgiving, visit redcross.org.