Talking Turkey about Thanksgiving Safety

As families across the country begin to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, the American Red Cross is urging everyone to take a few simple actions to prevent home fires and be prepared for common health emergencies.

Thanksgiving Day has more than double the number of home cooking fires than an average day, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. In fact, each year more than 4,000 fires occur on Thanksgiving Day.

"Unattended cooking is the leading cause of Thanksgiving Day home fires, and it's easy to understand why," said Red Cross preparedness expert Heidi Taylor. "People can easily become distracted and lose track of what's happening in the kitchen when they are enjoying spending time with family and friends."

To help prevent home fires this Thanksgiving, the Red Cross suggests the following tips:

  • Keep potholders and food wrappers at least three feet away from heat sources while cooking.
  • Wear tighter fitting clothing with shorter sleeves when cooking.
  • Make sure all stoves, ovens and ranges have been turned off when you leave the kitchen.
  • Set timers to keep track of turkeys and other food items that require extended cooking times.
  • Turn 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, designate a responsible adult to walk around the home making sure that all candles and smoking materials are extinguished.

Even with the best preparation and precautions, accidents can happen. Thanksgiving is high time for cooking related burns. Minor burns can be treated easily if you remember to save the butter for the rolls and not a burn. For a superficial burn, cool the area by running it under water until the heat eases and then loosely cover the burn with a sterile dressing.

Another danger that can interrupt a good turkey dinner is choking. The most common cause of choking is talking while eating. If you feel as if food may be caught in your throat, never leave the room, stay where others can see you and help if your airway becomes blocked.

To help someone who is choking, remember "FIVE-and-FIVE Can Keep Them Alive." First, ask the person if they are able to breathe and if you can help. Once you know the person is unable to cough, speak or breathe, have someone call 9-1-1 or your local emergency number, lean the person forward and give FIVE sharp back blows with the heel of your hand. If the obstruction isn't dislodged, give the person FIVE quick, upward abdominal thrusts. If you are alone, you can perform abdominal thrusts on yourself, just as you would on someone else. Thrusts can also be administered by pressing your abdomen firmly against an object such as the back of a chair.

For more Red Cross fire safety and first aid information, visit www.redcross.org.

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