If you ask someone what they worry about on Thanksgiving, you'll probably hear concerns like "Will my turkey turn out dry?" or "Will my team win the game?" But as families gather to celebrate and give thanks, the American Red Cross wants to remind everyone of some important safety issues that will help ensure a safe and happy holiday.
Since Thanksgiving usually involves preparing lots of food, cooking safety should be a priority. Unfortunately, cooking fires are more likely to occur on Thanksgiving Day than any other day of the year according to the National Fire Protection Association.. In fact, each year more than 4,000 fires occur on this holiday.
The Red Cross offers the following tips to prevent home fires this Thanksgiving:
- Monitor your cooking at all times. Unattended cooking is the leading cause of Thanksgiving Day home fires.
- Keep potholders and food wrappers at least three feet away from heat sources while cooking.
- Wear tighter fitting clothing with shorter sleeves when cooking.
- Make sure all stoves, ovens and ranges have been turned off when you leave the kitchen.
- Set timers to keep track of turkeys and other food items that require extended cooking times.
- Turn handles of pots and pans on the stove inward to avoid accidents.
- Follow all manufacturer guidelines regarding the appropriate use of appliances.
- After guests leave, designate a responsible adult to walk around the home, making sure that all candles and smoking materials are extinguished.
Finally, it's important for every household to make sure to have working smoke alarms. In a recent study commissioned by the Red Cross and National Fire Protection Association, 37% of respondents admitted to disabling a smoke alarm when it went off unexpectedly. The Red Cross encourages people to install smoke alarms on every level of their house and outside sleeping areas and to test the batteries once a month.
Even with the best preparation and precautions, accidents can happen. Cooking-related burns are a common hazard of the Thanksgiving holiday. For a superficial burn, cool the area by running it under cold water until the heat eases and then loosely cover the burn with a sterile dressing to help prevent infection. A critical burns requires medical attention.
Choking is another threat to a happy holiday dinner. Common causes of choking include talking while eating; eating too fast; and trying to swallow large pieces of poorly chewed food. If you feel as if food may be caught in your throat, never leave the room-stay where others can see you and help if your airway becomes blocked.
To help someone who is choking, remember "FIVE-and-FIVE Can Keep Them Alive." First, ask the person if they are able to breathe and if you can help. Once you know the person is unable to cough, speak or breathe, have someone call 9-1-1 or your local emergency number.
Lean the person forward and give FIVE sharp back blows between the shoulder blades with the heel of your hand. If the obstruction isn't dislodged, stand behind the person and give FIVE quick, upward thrusts into the abdomen. Repeat back blows and abdominal thrusts as necessary. If you are alone, you can perform abdominal thrusts on yourself, just as you would on someone else. Thrusts can also be administered by leaning over and pressing your abdomen firmly against an object such as the back of a chair.
For more Red Cross fire safety and first aid information visit www.redcross.org.
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and counsels victims of disasters; provides nearly half of the nation's blood supply; teaches lifesaving skills; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization - not a government agency - and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its humanitarian mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at www.redcrosschat.org.