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Focus on Safety for a Happy Thanksgiving
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Katie Lawson
November 23, 2006

Thanksgiving is a day to reflect on all we are thankful for, enjoy seasonal treats and spend time with loved ones. Although it may not be top of mind, focusing on safety can keep a happy holiday from taking a tragic turn. The American Red Cross offers simple suggestions to ensure you have a safe holiday.

Everyone is familiar with the traditional meal of turkey, stuffing and all the trimmings for Thanksgiving. The kitchen is bound to heat up after a full day of cooking, so be sure to keep children away from ovens and stovetops as well as hot pots, pans and casseroles. If cooking in your home is a family affair, always supervise young helpers and keep sharp objects and hot pan handles out of their reach.

Things can get confusing in the kitchen when cooking such a large meal so remember to treat each dish, pot and pan as if it were scalding hot. Constant use of potholders while taking dishes out of the oven or off the stove will help you steer clear of burns.

Even though you want to look nice for family and friends, never wear loose clothing or shirts with baggy sleeves while cooking. Wearing tighter fitting clothing in the kitchen will help prevent kitchen fires and injuries. Also, make sure not to leave cooking food unattended while preparing your Thanksgiving feast.

In the event of a burn, run cool tap water over the affected area to soothe the skin. Then, cover the burn with a sterile dressing or clean cloth. This will greatly reduce the chances of infection. If the burn is severe and blistering occurs, seek medical attention or call 9-1-1 for more assistance.

The comforting glow of candles around the home may invoke the warm holiday spirit, but they are a significant fire hazard. If you choose to set the mood with candles, never leave them burning unattended. Take extra care to supervise children (and pets) if candles grace your holiday table and extinguish them when you leave the room, even for a minute.

Choking is another prevalent hazard at Thanksgiving. Crudités and other appetizers, including those containing relishes, raw vegetables, olives, grapes, nuts and cheese cubes, can be dangerous for young children who may not be able to chew them adequately. Keep these nibblers out of their reach, unless supervised by an adult, to prevent choking.

Children get just as excited about the Thanksgiving meal as adults do. When you stick those kids at the kiddie table, cut their food for them into small, chewable pieces, key an eye on them and remind them often to chew their food thoroughly.

Because a main cause of choking is poorly chewed food, be sure to take your time and chew every bite thoroughly. Hors d'oeuvre and other bite-sized foods pose a choking hazard for adults as well as children because they can easily be swallowed whole and become lodged in the throat. In addition, talking or laughing while eating can cause one to choke, and alcohol can dull the nerves that assist in swallowing so take care to drink responsibly.

Don’t forget about those four-legged family members too. It is certainly tempting to throw a bone to your well-behaved pooch but don’t give in to temptation. Poultry bones are hollow so they break and splitter easily, which can cause pets to choke or do even worse damage to their digestive systems. Also, use care in sharing other table scraps with pets as their canine and feline systems may have trouble with the rich holiday foods. That’s not just good advice for their health and safety; it’s a good tip for preserving rugs and upholstery. Stick to pet food and treats – they’ll thank you for it.

Just because we get to take a break from dieting on Thanksgiving, doesn’t mean we can throw caution to the autumn winds. Remember these suggestions and have a happy and safe holiday.

For more helpful tips and information, visit the "Preparedness" and "Health & Safety" sections of the Red Cross public Web site, RedCross.org or contact your local Red Cross chapter.

The American Red Cross helps people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies. Last year, almost a million volunteers and 35,000 employees helped victims of almost 75,000 disasters; taught lifesaving skills to millions; and helped U.S. service members separated from their families stay connected. Almost 4 million people gave blood through the Red Cross, the largest supplier of blood and blood products in the United States. The American Red Cross is part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. An average of 91 cents of every dollar the Red Cross spends is invested in humanitarian services and programs. The Red Cross is not a government agency; it relies on donations of time, money, and blood to do its work.

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