This post was originally published on November 18, 2014 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Thanksgiving is a holiday favorite for many. Although you want to have an enjoyable holiday with friends and family, you also want a safe one. With more people than usual inside your home, there are heightened safety risks that can foil your dinner plans. Here are a few Thanksgiving safety tips to ensure a safe and successful holiday.

1. Know Food Prep Safety

One invisible risk we often don’t consider is foodborne pathogens. You should be particularly cautious during Thanksgiving. Having a lot of raw food and people around the house can increase the chances of someone getting sick or contaminating the food. An unclean or cluttered kitchen, coupled with improper sanitary food prep standards, can put you and your family at risk.

To maintain the best food prep practices, consider these tips:

  • Thaw poultry in the refrigerator. Never thaw at room temperature. When poultry is stored in warm places, such as out on the counter, foodborne bacteria can multiply quickly.
  • Thoroughly wash hands, cooking instruments and surfaces that come into contact with raw meat.
  • Don’t let children into the kitchen when raw food is present.
  • Heat turkey to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Contain contamination by using separate cutting boards and knives for meat versus non-meat food items.
  • Use or freeze leftovers within three to four days.

2. Be Cautious of Kitchen Fires

Creating the perfect Thanksgiving dinner is often stressful and tricky. You’re preparing so many foods at once that it can be easy to lose track and let something cook too long, which increases the risk of a fire. Below are some pointers to help prevent a fire emergency from occurring this holiday season:

  • 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 technology 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.
  • Follow cooking safety protocols. Deep-fried turkey has become a popular tradition for many families. Be sure you have the right equipment, attire, and safety precautions in place for this or any unique cooking method.
  • Don’t leave rags, paper towels, or napkins out in the open while cooking.
  • Always have a fire extinguisher on standby.

The most important thing you can do before Thanksgiving is to test smoke/fire detectors to ensure they work properly. Faulty detectors are recipe for disaster. If a fire breaks out, every second counts. Fire detectors are your first line of defense during a fire emergency, so you should change them immediately if there’s an issue.  

3. Keep Children Safe

Many children tend to wander around the home and kitchen while you’re cooking or preparing dinner. Unfortunately, there are a lot of safety hazards for children, so it’s always important to take extra precautions to ensure their safety. If you expect children in the household, you should:

  • 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 instead of a dishtowel, and to wash hands between each task.
  • Don’t leave any knives or sharp objects out in the open or within reaching distance.

4. Secure Your Home for Holiday Travel

Whether you’re going out for Thanksgiving or staying in, or both, you always want to make sure your home is protected. A smart home security system is one of the most effective ways to protect your home while you’re enjoying the holiday season and preparing for the new year.

Don’t let thieves and criminals ruin the holiday fun for you and your family. If you would like to learn more about what Vector Security can do to better secure your home, feel free to contact us today.