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Thanksgiving safety

27 Nov 2013 | Lance Cpl. Brendan Roethel

Thanksgiving is a time for families and friends to gather together, enjoy Thanksgiving delights, and be thankful. Steps should be taken to mitigate dangers that can result in illness, injury and death.

An estimated 4,300 cooking fires break out each Thanksgiving, resulting in approximately 15 deaths, according to the American Red Cross. Poison control centers receive hundreds of calls about food and alcohol poisoning during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Many of these incidents are preventable.

The cooking range accounts for an estimated 60 percent of all cooking-related home fires. To prevent fires and extensive fire damage there should be a smoke alarm and multipurpose fire extinguisher on every level of the home, and an additional extinguisher in the kitchen. Never leave food that’s frying, grilling, or broiling unattended.

When boiling or baking, don’t walk away from the kitchen for more than three minutes, and be sure to use back burners and turn pot handles away from cooktop edges, especially when young children are present. Don’t put on loose fitting clothing when cooking, long sleeved shirts are more susceptible to catching fire.

Cooking safety goes beyond fire safety, improper cooking procedures could also result in food poisoning, which could cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhoea, headaches, a fever and impaired consciousness. Fresh turkey should sit in the refrigerator for no more than two days. To properly thaw frozen poultry make sure they sit in a tray to prevent cross-contamination. When cooking, use a meat thermometer to make sure the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees, and refrigerate leftovers within two hours of cooking.

Although there are many risks during Thanksgiving in the home, they also extend away from the kitchen and dinner table. As people gather to meet with their families and friends the roads will be flooded with drivers. During the holidays, distracted driving is a major cause of auto accidents. To prevent being distracted on the road make snacks, drinks, and toys accessible to occupy young children, and don’t use cell phones while behind the wheel.

Motor vehicle accidents can also be prevented by making sure the driver is well rested prior to driving, and limiting travel to 350 miles per day, or no more than eight hours a day. Additionally keep a first aid kit inside the vehicle in case of emergency.

"Thanksgiving is the first major holiday of the holiday season, and I hope everyone has a wonderful time with their friends and families," said Gunnery Sgt. Moses Lozano, the Ground Safety Manager with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron aboard Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort. "By staying alert and following safety guidelines you can prevent dangerous situations from occuring."