Thanksgiving dinner safety and cooking tips

Nov 14, 2023, 9:00 PM

Thanksgiving dinner preparation causes up to four times...

FILE: This week, an estimated 46 million turkeys will be consumed in America. During the Thanksgiving holiday, people are busy planning the menu and compiling the grocery list and can sometimes forget that unsafe food preparation can lead to foodborne illness. (Lisa Thornberg)

(Lisa Thornberg)

SALT LAKE CITY — Thanksgiving dinner is so close you can almost taste it. Grocery stores all over the nation are stocked with heavy whipping cream, canned pumpkin, sweet potatoes, and, of course, turkey. 

But every year, tragedy strikes kitchens all over the good ol’ U.S. of A. The National Fire Protection Association says that 49% of home fires are caused by cooking. On top of that, up to four times as many cooking fires happen on Thanksgiving.

The NFPA gives some kitchen safety tips to help stop those fires from starting.

NFPA’s number one tip for kitchen fire safety is to stay in the kitchen. With the potential of family coming in from out of town and kids running around, it’s hard to juggle all the different hats that you have to wear as you craft your version of Thanksgiving dinner. The most important hat is the chef’s hat.

Leaving the gravy on the stove while you take a pie to the fridge in the garage is a great recipe for burnt gravy or even a burnt kitchen. Not only is an unattended kitchen the leading cause of cooking fires, but it’s also the leading cause of fire deaths. 

Storing your Thanksgiving dinner

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says that storing your Thanksgiving dinner outside is a bad idea, even if it’s chilly out. You don’t want any animals (domestic or wild) taste-testing your grandma’s Jell-O salad. 

The USDA says that this is because you can’t regulate the temperature outside. So, you can’t be sure your food is kept at a safe temperature and bacteria could grow. 

The USDA also advises that leftovers be eaten by Monday, or within four days. If you’re not able to eat your Thanksgiving dinner, store it in some freezer bags or airtight containers and it’ll last for another four months.

Frying your turkey

The American Red Cross says that you should “keep an eye on what you fry.” If you see boiling oil or smoke, turn off your burner. Keep a cookie sheet or the pot lid handy. In case there’s a fire, cover the pot with the sheet or lid to suffocate the fire. 

The NFPA says to skip the risk and don’t use a fryer. Turkey fryers that use cooking oil aren’t safe. If you still want that fried turkey on your table, get it from a grocery store.

Another tip is to keep the kitchen clean and tidy. Make sure pan handles aren’t hanging over the counter as little ones are known to pull pans off the stove. Stay safe and enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner!


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Thanksgiving dinner safety and cooking tips