Whether you are traveling or celebrating at home, the Thanksgiving holiday brings with it potential hazards that in many cases can be avoided.
In fact, studies show that U.S. mortality rates spike around Thanksgiving each year. This is partly due to the change in season and increases in illnesses such as the flu. But overwhelmingly the increase in deaths and injuries over the holiday is related to changes in behavior, according to the CDC. We travel more, we cook and clean more, we drink more alcohol, we eat more, and we deal with more high-stress situations.
That having been said, with some awareness and preparation, you can celebrate a happy and safe holiday.
Thanksgiving weekend is one of the busiest traffic times of the year. According to AAA, nearly 50 million Americans will get behind the wheel this Thanksgiving, traveling 50 miles or more from home.
There are some steps you can take to make sure you are as prepared as possible for anything you may face on the roads:
- First and foremost, do not be impaired in any way when you are driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, from 2013 to 2017, there were more than 800 fatalities caused by alcohol-impaired driving during the Thanksgiving period—6 p.m. Wednesday to 5:59 a.m. Monday—making it the deadliest holiday on U.S. roads. This means it’s important to not only be sober behind the wheel but also to be keenly aware of others on the road over the long weekend.
- Be well rested and alert and give your full attention to the road.
- Give yourself plenty of time to get where you are going.
- Avoid distractions such as cell phones. Do not text and drive.
- Make sure your car is in good condition for a road trip. If you do have car trouble, pull as far off the road as possible.
- Pack an emergency preparedness kit, supplies and a first aid kit in the trunk.
- Be ready for inclement weather.
- Share travel plans with a family member or friend.
- Buckle up, slow down, and follow the rules of the road.
- Make frequent stops. During long trips, rotate drivers. If you’re too tired to drive, stop and get some rest.
The other big culprit for accidents and injuries during the holiday is the preparation. According to the National Fire Protection Association, Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires in the U.S., followed by Christmas Day, Christmas Eve, and the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. In 2016, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 1,570 home cooking fires on Thanksgiving, with unattended cooking being the leading contributing factor in fire injuries and deaths.
How to avoid kitchen dangers:
- If you are frying, grilling or broiling food, never leave it unattended—stay in the kitchen. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
- Stay in the home when cooking your turkey and check on it frequently.
- Keep children at least 3 feet away from a hot stove. Even the steam or splash from vegetables, gravy or coffee could cause serious burns.
- If you are deep-frying your turkey, never use the fryer indoors, keep it a safe distance from buildings and flammable objects, be sure your turkey is completely thawed and dry, keep children and pets away, and be mindful of splashing or spattering oil.
- Clear the floor so you don’t trip over kids, toys, pocketbooks or bags.
- Keep anything that can catch fire—pot holders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, towels or curtains—away from your stove, oven or any other appliance in the kitchen that generates heat.
- Make sure your smoke alarms are working.
- Never dispose of hot grease in the garbage. Instead, let it cool and then discard it in a covered metal can (like a coffee can).
- Always check the kitchen before going to bed or leaving home to make sure all stoves, ovens, and small appliances are turned off.
- Have a fire extinguisher on hand and know how to use it.
This is a wonderful time of year to spend with friends and family, by taking care and being alert you can keep the holiday hazards at bay. Wishing you a happy and safe Thanksgiving from TSS!