It’s that time of year again when the smell of roasted turkey, stuffing and all things pumpkin fill the air. Thanksgiving is a favorite holiday of many; however, heightened safety risks associated with the feast can foil your plans. Follow these three tips to keep the merriment in your home this Thanksgiving.

1. Understand Food Prep Safety

When a meal is the center of the festivity, you better be sure it’s prepared safely!  Foodborne pathogens are a risk during the holiday. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, loose stool and fever.

An unclean or cluttered kitchen, coupled with improper sanitary food prep standards, can put you and your family at risk of more than a bellyache.

To maintain food prep best practices:

  • Thaw poultry in the refrigerator. Keeping poultry in warm places, such as out on the counter, allows foodborne bacteria to multiply quickly.
  • Thoroughly wash hands, cooking instruments and surfaces that come into contact with raw meat.
  • Heat turkey to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Contain contamination. Use separate cutting boards for meat versus non-meat food items.
  • Use or freeze leftovers within three to four days.

2. Prevent Kitchen Fires

Putting together a Thanksgiving meal can be tricky. You’re preparing so many foods at different times and temperatures that it can be easy to lose track. The below pointers can help:

  • Write out a cooking schedule. Include what time you will put each dish on the stove or in the oven.
  • Label timers—either with built-in functionality or a post-it note. This will help you keep track of what timer correlates with which dish.
  • Do not leave your kitchen unattended while food cooks. An unattended stove or oven is a recipe for disaster.

Most importantly, test your smoke/fire detectors to ensure that they are working properly. If something goes wrong, you and the local fire department will be alerted immediately.

3. Keep Kids Safe

If your kids have a tendency to wander around the kitchen, take extra precaution to ensure their safety.

  • Turn pot and pan handles toward the back of stove, so that nothing is accidentally reached for or pulled down.
  • Ensure kids are always supervised by an adult in the kitchen.
  • If helping cook, teach children proper kitchen hygiene—i.e. to sneeze or cough away from food, to wipe hands on a paper towel not a dishtowel and to wash hands between each task.

What precautions will you take to ensure a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Image Source: Tim Sackton via Flickr