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Thanksgiving dinner safety tips

Michele Borboa, MS is a freelance writer and editor specializing in health, fitness, food, lifestyle, and pets. Michele is a health and wellness expert, personal chef, cookbook author, and pet-lover based in Bozeman, Montana. She is also...

Thanksgiving kitchen safety

Thanksgiving dinner is one of the most anticipated meals of the year and an ideal opportunity for cooks to show off their culinary expertise. However, for Underwriters Laboratories (UL), the leading product safety testing organization, Thanksgiving is considered the peak day for preventable cooking fires. Regardless of your cooking style - whether you are a multi-tasking master, first-time chef or ambitious culinary artist - UL suggests the following kitchen safety tips to keep your Thanksgiving celebration from going up in smoke.

Woman wearing oven mittThanksgiving safety tips for the multi-tasking master chef

Stay in the kitchen while food is cooking. Most fires in the kitchen occur because food is left unattended. If you must leave the kitchen briefly, carry an oven mitt with you as a reminder that something is cooking.

Keep the stove free of clutter. Don't overload a stovetop with too many pots and pans. Trying to cook all the Thanksgiving dishes at once can cause grease to accidentally spill onto a stovetop and erupt into a fire. Only cook with as many pots and pans as there are burners.

Do not hold your child in one arm while cooking with the other. Holding a child while cooking is a terrible invitation for a bad burn. It's best, if possible, to keep your kids out of the kitchen altogether while you're cooking. Keep them occupied in another room by having them play with relatives or offer them an allowance if they do their chores outside of the kitchen.

Never wear loose fitting clothing when cooking. Long, open sleeves can ignite and catch fire from a gas flame or a hot burner. Wear short, close fitting or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking. If you have long hair, be sure to tie it back as it, too, can catch fire (and no one wants to sit down to a turkey dinner showcasing your errant strands of hair!).

Thanksgiving safety tips for the cautious chef

Keep smoke alarms connected while cooking. Smoke alarms can save lives. Make sure smoke alarms are installed and working.

Keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen in case of emergency and know how to use it. Make sure the fire extinguisher is rated for grease fires and electrical fires and read the directions carefully.

The acronym P.A.S.S. can help make sure you use it properly:

  • Pull the pin.
  • Aim the spray nozzle low at the base of the fire.
  • Squeeze the nozzle to spray the contents.
  • Sweep back and forth as you spray the base of the fire.

Evaluate appliances wisely and look for the UL Mark. When purchasing electric cooking products such as electric knives, slow cookers and food processors, look for the UL Mark. The UL Mark is one of the most widely recognized and trusted safety symbols among consumers, and confirms a product has been tested and certified to meet specific safety standards.

Thanksgiving safety tips for the ambitious cook

Be extremely cautious if using a turkey fryer. Because turkey fryers pose a number of distinct safety concerns, including burn and fire hazards, UL has decided not to certify any turkey fryers. If a family decides they must use a turkey fryer this Thanksgiving, UL urges them to be extremely cautious and read the turkey fryer safety tips at www.UL.com/Consumers.

Always keep a potholder, oven mitt and lid handy while cooking. When removing lids on hot pans, tilt them away from you to protect your face and hands from steam. If there happens to be an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed to prevent flames from burning you or your clothing. If a small fire starts in a pan on the stove, put on a flame-resistant oven mitt and smother the flames by carefully sliding the lid over the pan. Turn off the burner. Don't remove the lid until the food has cooled.

Do not pour water on a grease fire. Pouring water on a grease fire can cause the fire to dangerously spread.

Never put a glass casserole or lid on the stove or over a burner. If the glass gets hot and explodes, it will send shards of glass in all directions causing harm to anyone and anything in its path.

Thanksgiving is a day to visit with family and friends and feast on great food. Follow these helpful Thanksgiving dinner safety tips from UL and enjoy a fire- and smoke-free holiday.

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