Holidays may be full of fun and excitement, but they also can be hazardous to your health.
It would seem that Turkey Day should score low on the potential-for-trouble meter, but, in reality, Thanksgiving Day poses its own set of challenges. If you don’t prepare your turkey properly, you could send guests home sick. If not everyone in the family gets along, your dinner table could go from cordial to combative.
Here are some holiday safety tips to help keep the Thanksgiving holiday a healthy one for your household:
Turkey basics. Thawing, preparing, stuffing and cooking your turkey should be done with health and safety best practices in mind, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Thawing turkeys must be kept at a safe temperature, otherwise bacteria will grow. Don’t thaw the turkey on your kitchen counter. Instead, safely thaw it in a refrigerator set at 40°F or below, allowing 24 hours for every four to five pounds of turkey. If you’re stuffing the turkey, do so just before putting it into the oven. For maximum food safety, roast the stuffing outside the turkey and use a food thermometer to make sure the internal temperature of the turkey reaches 165°F. Ovens should be set no lower than 325°F. Clean your hands and all food preparation areas to get rid bacteria.
Squash overindulgence. Who doesn’t want to eat their fill at Thanksgiving? It’s hard to pass up holiday favorites, but you can exercise some control. To start, eat a little something before the big meal to dampen your appetite. Once you sit at the table, stick with modest portions. Drink water to help keep your stomach full. Also, take a walk after the meal to start burning calories.
Give love – not Thanksgiving food – generously to pets. If you’re sharing Thanksgiving with pets, it might be tempting to toss a few table scraps their way. That’s not a good idea, according to the American Kennel Club. Fatty turkey skin, stuffing and sugary bits of pie can make your pet sick, and alcohol can be toxic to pets, even in small amounts, so don’t offer a sip. And, never feed a turkey bone to a dog – it’s a choking hazard.
Family issues. Thanksgiving may be the ultimate family holiday, but any number of issues may keep family members (and friends) at odds. One way to tame tension is to ask everyone to help out with dinner. Setting the table, folding napkins and other tasks can be shared, promoting a sense of goodwill. Also, carefully plan your seating arrangement. If you know there’s friction between two family members, place them at opposite ends of the table. After all, you don’t want frost on your Thanksgiving turkey.
Travel tips. Thanksgiving is typically one of the busiest travel days of the year, when travelers risk facing snarled traffic and delayed flights. But there are a few holiday safety tips that can help you stay sane. The American Automobile Association advises getting on the road early if you’re heading out of town and planning extra time to arrive at your destination. If you’re driving, wear your seatbelt, don’t speed and avoid behavior that could lead to a road rage incident, such as tailgating and cutting off other motorists. If you’re catching a plane, be prepared for long lines at the security checkpoint. With a little patience and good humor, you can survive – and even enjoy – the Thanksgiving holiday.
What safety precautions do you take during the holiday season? Share your tips with us in the “Comments” section below.