While traditional Thanksgiving Holidays have included large gatherings of family and friends this year, in light of COVID-19, we may need to consider smaller celebrations. Federal, state, and local officials are encouraging us to limit this year’s festivities to those people in our immediate households. However, if you plan to celebrate with people outside your household, consider taking these steps to stay safer this year:
Wear a mask
Stay at least 6 feet away from others who do not live with you
Many of us are familiar with the saying “The kitchen is the heart of the home.” And that is very much the case during Thanksgiving as we all usually end up in the kitchen! Adults and kids alike love to be part of the action. Safety in the kitchen is important, especially during times when there is a lot going on and perhaps, more people in the kitchen.
Did you know that cooking fires in residential buildings occurred more often on Thanksgiving Day than any other day of the year? The average number of reported residential building fires on Thanksgiving Day was more than double (2.3 times more) the average number of fires in residential buildings on all days. Cooking was, by far, the leading cause of all Thanksgiving Day fires in residential buildings.
Follow these kitchen/cooking safety tips to stay safer this Thanksgiving, and any time you cook:
Stay in your home when cooking your turkey and check on it frequently.
Stay alert! To prevent cooking fires, you must be alert. You will not be alert if you are sleepy, have consumed alcohol, or have taken medicine or drugs that make you drowsy.
Stay in your kitchen when you are cooking on the stovetop so you can keep an eye on the food. Turn off the burner if you leave the kitchen for any reason.
If you are simmering, baking, or roasting food, check it regularly and stay in your home. Use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.
Keep anything that can catch fire–oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels, and curtains, etc.–away from your stovetop.
Keep the stovetop, burners, and oven clean.
Turn pot handles toward the back of the stove so no one can bump them or pull them over.
Keep children (and pets) away from the stove. The stove will be hot and kids should stay at least 3 feet away.
Make sure kids stay away from hot food and liquids. The steam or splash from vegetables, gravy or coffee could cause serious burns.
Keep knives out of the reach of children.
Be sure electric cords from an electric knife, coffee maker, plate warmer or mixer are not dangling off the counter within easy reach of a child.
Keep the floor clear so you don’t trip over kids, toys, purses, backpacks, or bags.
Wear short, close-fitting, or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking. Loose clothing can dangle onto stove burners and can catch fire if it comes in contact with a gas flame or an electric burner.
In case of an oven fire, turn off the oven and keep the door closed until it’s cool.
Always keep a lid nearby when you are cooking. If a small grease fire starts in a pan, smother the flames by sliding the lid over the pan. Turn off the burner. Do not move the pan. To keep the fire from restarting, leave the lid on until the pan has cooled. Never pour water on a cooking pan grease fire!
Did you know that December is the peak time of year for home candle fires? Three of every five home candle fires happen when a candle is placed too close to something that can burn and more than one-third of home candle fires started in the bedroom.
While candles may be part of your religious celebrations, or you may just like the ambiance of candles, there are several considerations to keep in mind with open flame candles:
Think about using flameless candles in your home. They look and smell like real candles.
Candles should be placed in a sturdy candle holder that won’t burn or tip over easily.
If a candle must burn continuously, be sure it is enclosed in a glass container and placed on a metal tray.
Keep candles at least 12 inches from anything that can burn.
Candles should be out of the reach of children and pets. Young children should never hold a lit candle. Consider providing battery-operated candles for children.
Matches and lighters should be stored out of the reach of children, in a locked cabinet.
Never use a candle if oxygen is used in the home! The two can combine to create a large, unexpected fire. Medical oxygen can cause materials to ignite more easily and burn at a faster rate than normal. It can make an existing fire burn faster and hotter.
General Fire Safety
SmokeAlarms • It is important to install smoke alarms on every level of the home, inside every bedroom, outside each sleeping area and in the basement. • Test all smoke alarms at least once a month. Press the test button to be sure the alarm is working. • Replace all smoke alarms when they are 10 years old. (Look on the back of your smoke alarms for the date; if it is 10 years old replace it.)
Escape Planning • Make a home escape plan with your family that includes two ways out of every room. • Have an outside meeting place a safe distance from the home where everyone should meet in case of emergency. • Practice your home fire drill twice a year, at night and during the day with everyone in your home. • If the smoke alarm sounds, family members should get outside and stay outside. Call 9-1-1 from outside your home.
Communicating with Loved Ones • While your family is together celebrating the holidays decide on an emergency safe meeting place. • Talk to your family over the dinner table about where to meet during an emergency. • Give the gift of communication this holiday with Family Emergency Communication Plan wallet cards: https://www.ready.gov/collection/family-communication-plan