08 Nov Giving Thanks Safely: A Guide to Thanksgiving Safety in 2023
As the autumn leaves fall and a crisp chill fills the air, families across the United States eagerly anticipate the arrival of Thanksgiving Day. It’s a time for gratitude, togetherness, and indulging in the bountiful feast that has become synonymous with this cherished holiday. Yet, amidst the joy and festivities, it’s crucial to prioritize safety to ensure that this special day is memorable for all the right reasons. Whether you’re a seasoned host or a guest eagerly awaiting your invitation, our blog will provide you with valuable insights to guarantee a Thanksgiving that is not only filled with gratitude but also free of accidents and mishaps.
Thanksgiving is the leading day for home cooking fires. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), there are 3 to 4 times as many home cooking fires on Thanksgiving than there are on a typical day (1). The U.S. Fire Administration reports that from each year from 2017 to 2019, there was an estimated average of 2,300 residential building fires each Thanksgiving Day. These fires caused an estimated annual average of 5 deaths, 25 injuries and $26 million in property loss (2).
Turkey Fryer Hazards:
The NFPA cautions that turkey fryers that use cooking oil are not safe (3) and the National Safety Council (NSC) discourages the use of turkey fryers (4). Because these fryers use large amounts of oil at high temperatures, they cause devastating burns and present a significant fire hazard. If you want a fried turkey for your Thanksgiving meal, consider purchasing it from a grocery store, restaurant or use a fryer that does not use oil such as an oil-less infrared fryer. If you are using an oil turkey fryer, only use it outdoors and away from buildings or trees. Ensure the turkey is fully thawed to prevent oil splatter.
While decorating our homes comes with the festive holiday season, these decorations can be fuel for a candle fire. 2 out of 5 home decoration fires are started by candles and on average 20 home candle fires are reported each day (5). Consider using flameless candles in your home to avoid the fire hazard. If you are using candles, keep them at least 12 inches away from anything that can burn and blow out all candles before you leave a room or go to bed.
Trips and Falls:
With more guests and potential obstacles (like toys and bags), the probability of trips and falls increases. Consider blocking off areas of your home to limit children from climbing up and down stairs and make sure to clear walkways and staircases.
Prevent foodborne illnesses by ensuring proper thawing, cooking, handling, and storing of food items. The CDC provides helpful tips and strategies to help reduce the risk of illness: https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/communication/holiday-turkey.html. Another tip provided by the USDA: Washing a raw turkey can spread germs up to 3 feet away to other food and surfaces (6). The USDA and similar federal agencies have recommended not washing turkey or chicken since 2005 but a 2020 survey found that 78% of participants reported washing or rinsing turkey before cooking (7). Old recipes and family cooking traditions may tempt you to keep this practice going, but it can make you and your family sick. Poultry juice can spread in the kitchen and contaminate other foods, utensils, and countertops. If you wash raw turkey, immediately clean and thoroughly sanitize the sink and surrounding area. A USDA study found that 1 in 7 people who cleaned their sink after washing chicken still had germs in the sink.
Alcohol-related incidents increase during holidays. The frequency and severity of injuries can increase with alcohol consumption due to impaired judgement, cognition, and physical coordination. If you are consuming alcohol during the Thanksgiving holiday, consider moderation and ensure you have a designated driver or other safe transportation option. Also, ensure guests have designated drivers or other safe transportation options. The NSC reports alcohol consumption being a major contributing factor to motor-vehicle crashes particularly during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend (8).
With Thanksgiving being one of the busiest travel days, ensure that vehicles are in good working condition.
As the temperatures drop you may be tempted to utilize space heaters in your home. Do not use space heaters while sleeping and do not leave them unattended. Keep space heaters away from materials that can burn. Electric space heaters should have a seal of a qualified testing laboratory and be equipped with an auto shut-off to turn the heater off if the unit tips over. The unit should be plugged directly into the wall outlet, never use an extension cord.
Carbon Monoxide (CO) and Smoke Alarms:
Ensure that CO and smoke detectors are in working condition, as CO incidents can increase with the use of heating devices. Consider installing new, fully charged batteries in your CO detectors and smoke alarms. After you replace the batteries, test the units to ensure they are functioning properly by pressing the Test button.
With expert advice and practical suggestions, we aim to equip you with the knowledge and confidence needed to create a secure and enjoyable atmosphere for everyone involved. Our Safety & Risk Consulting department delivers businesses with quality safety & risk inspections and trainings – working with just about every employer sector to address both the common and unique risks that challenge the health and safety of employees as well as the employers’ property and assets. Contact us today to learn more.