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Eat, Drink & Be Safe: Tips for a Safe Thanksgiving
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By Cynthia Shaw, American Red Cross Silicon Valley Chapter
November 26, 2009
This year the American Red Cross offers important steps you can take to help ensure your Thanksgiving is a safe one.
Avoid the Danger of a Cooking Fire
Thanksgiving can be a bad day for home cooking fires. Taking a few simple precautions can help prevent home fires. Follow these safety tips to help prevent home fires this Thanksgiving:
  • Stay in the kitchen while you are cooking. Unattended cooking is the leading cause of Thanksgiving Day home fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
  • To prevent cooking fires, you must be alert. You won’t be alert if you are sleepy, have taken medicine or drugs, or consumed alcohol that makes you drowsy.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire -- potholders, wooden utensils, food wrappers, towels or curtains-- away from your stove top.
  • Make sure your sleeves are out of the way when cooking. Wear tighter fitting clothing with shorter sleeves.
  • Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen even for a short period of time, turn off the stove.
  • If you are simmering, baking, roasting or boiling food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you’re cooking.
  • Have a “kid-free zone” of at least three feet around the stove and areas where hot food or drink is prepared or carried.
  • Never hold a child while cooking, drinking or carrying hot foods or liquids.
  • Keep pets off cooking surfaces and nearby countertops to prevent them from knocking things onto the burner.
  • Turn the 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, walk around the home, making sure that all candles and smoking materials are extinguished.
  • Make sure your smoke alarms are working.
Know What To Do If Someone is Burned or Starts to Choke
Unfortunately, burns can be a common hazard while cooking. For a superficial burn, cool the affected 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 burn requires medical attention.
If someone begins to choke, ask the person if they are OK and if you can help. If coughing, encourage him or her to continue coughing. If they can’t cough, speak or breathe, have someone call 9-1-1 or your local emergency number.
Meanwhile, position yourself slightly behind the person, 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, wrap your arms around his or her waist and give five quick, upward thrusts into the abdomen (just above the navel). 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, a railing or the kitchen sink.
Red Cross training can give you the skills and confidence to act in an emergency. For more information on what to do in an emergency, contact us or sign up for one of our training classes.

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