Thanksgiving meal

As you prepare for your Thanksgiving meal, community agencies are reminding those cooking to practice safe cooking methods.

WARRENSBURG — Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, gravy, green bean casserole, mac and cheese, rolls, salad and pumpkin pie, key essentials to Thanksgiving meals.

People work days ahead preparing for the big feast.

As you prepare for your Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving meal or even just a family get together, community agencies are giving a friendly reminder about safe food preparation methods.

A reminder from the National Fire Protection Association

For most, the kitchen is the heart of the home, especially during the holidays.

From testing family recipes to decorating cakes and cookies, everyone enjoys being part of the preparations.

Keeping fire safety top of mind in the kitchen during this joyous but hectic time is important, especially when there’s a lot of activity and people at home.

The National Fire Protection Association suggests that as you start preparing your holiday schedule and organizing that large family feast, remember, by following a few simple safety tips you can enjoy time with your loved ones and keep yourself and your family safer from fire.

Top 10 safety tips

  • Stay in the kitchen when you are cooking on the stove top so you can keep an eye on the food.
  • Stay in the home when cooking your turkey, and check on it frequently.
  • Keep children away from the stove. The stove will be hot and kids should stay three feet away.
  • Make sure kids stay away from hot food and liquids. The steam or splash from vegetables, gravy or coffee could cause serious burns.
  • Keep knives out of the reach of children.
  • Be sure electric cords from an electric knife, coffee maker, plate warmer or mixer are not dangling off the counter within easy reach of a child.
  • Keep matches and utility lighters out of the reach of children — up high in a locked cabinet.
  • Never leave children alone in room with a lit candle.
  • Keep the floor clear so you don’t trip over kids, toys, pocketbooks or bags.
  • Make sure your smoke alarms are working. Test them by pushing the test button.

Thanksgiving fire facts from the NFPA Fire Applied Research Division

  • Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires, followed by Christmas Day, Christmas Eve and the day before Thanksgiving.
  • In 2017, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 1,600 home cooking fires on Thanksgiving, the peak day for such fires.
  • Unattended cooking was by far the leading contributing factor in cooking fires and fire-related deaths.
  • Cooking equipment was involved in almost half of all reported home fires and home fire injuries, and it is the second leading cause of home fire deaths.

Thanksgiving preparation tips from the Missouri Department of Public Safety and State Fire Marshal's Office

In addition to the hazards posed by jammed stovetops and crowded kitchens, turkey fryers and candles contribute to the elevated fire risk on Turkey Day.

Stovetops and ovens

Busy cooks can become distracted preparing several dishes at once while also trying to entertain guests. Cooking fires can easily be prevented by following a few simple precautions:

  • Start the holiday cooking with a clean stove and oven. Remove food and grease buildup from burners, stovetop and oven.
  • Keep a flame-resistant oven mitt, potholder or lid nearby to smother any flames.
  • For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.

Turkey fryers

Never use a turkey fryer indoors, in the garage or on a covered patio because of the fire hazard.

Never overfill the oil in a turkey fryer.

Many turkey fires occur while the oil is being heated.

Units can easily tip over, spilling hot, scalding oil onto anyone or anything nearby, leading to fires, burns or other injuries.

Since most units do not have automatic thermostatic controls, oil may heat until it catches fire.

The sides, lids and handles get extremely hot and may cause burns.

Addition turkey fryer safety tips from the Missouri State Fire Marshal's Office

  • Read and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines.
  • Completely thaw the turkey.
  • Do not overfill the fryer with oil. Before dumping a few gallons of oil into the fryer, test it out with water. Place the turkey inside and then fill it with water until the bird is submerged. Remove the turkey and mark the water line on the fryer so you will know how much oil to put in the fryer.
  • Never leave the fryer unattended.
  • Keep children and pets well away from the fryer. Remember the oil will remain dangerously hot for hours.
  • Only use the oil recommended by the manufacturer. Different types of oil have different ignition temperatures.
  • Allow at least two feet of space between the liquid propane tank and the fryer burner.
  • Use well-insulated potholders or oven mitts; wear safety goggles to protect eyes from oil splatter.
  • If oil begins to smoke, immediately turn OFF the gas supply.
  • Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher nearby.
  • Never use water to extinguish a grease fire.

Candles

According to the NFPA, candles are responsible for an estimated 15,600 residential fires a year, causing 150 deaths, 1,270 injuries and $539 million in property damage. More than half of candle fires are a result of a candle being placed too close to flammable holiday decorations. Always keep children in mind when decorating.

Keep your house protected

Johnson County Emergency Management has teamed with the American Red Cross and other community partners to provide installation of free smoke alarms for Johnson County residents.

Local professionals will install the alarms at no cost.

This program is part of a nationwide campaign to reduce home fire deaths and injuries.

A smoke alarm’s age can be determined by looking on the back or side of the smoke alarm, where the date of manufacture can be found.

Smoke alarms should be replaced 10 years from that date (not the date of purchase or installation).

In addition, smoke alarms should be tested monthly, and batteries should be replaced when they begin to chirp, signaling that they’re running low.

To arrange for an installation, complete the a program form and someone will be in contact with you soon.

For additional information, contact Johnson County Emergency Management at (660) 747-2666.

Johnson County Community Healthy Services gives five tips for ensuring a safe and happy Thanksgiving

  1. Thaw the frozen turkey in the refrigerator (40 degrees Fahrenheit or below). Allow one day for each five pounds of turkey. Do not thaw on the kitchen counter, bath tub or toilet.
  2. Wash your hands with hot, soapy water before and after handling raw poultry. Wash all knives, cutting boards and utensils also in between use. Use two cutting boards: one for preparing raw meat, poultry and fish, and the other for cutting cooked food or preparing salads.
  3. Cook a turkey until it has an internal temperature of at least 165 degree Fahrenheit. Use a meat thermometer to monitor the internal temperature. Do not slow cook a turkey overnight at low temperatures.
  4. Stuffing should not be prepared a day ahead and the turkey should not be stuffed until ready to cook. A quicker, safer method is to cook the stuffing separately in a casserole dish, using some of the pan juices to flavor and moisten the stuffing.
  5. Eat the meal as soon as it is prepared. A good rule of thumb for food safety is to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Take your time around the dinner table, but start packing up and refrigerating the leftovers within two hours. Leftovers should be cooled down as quickly as possible. Cut the meat off the bones and put it in shallow containers in the refrigerator. Reheat all leftovers to 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Managing Editor of Digital Publishing Derek Brizendine can be reached by emailing derek.brizendine@dsjnow.com, by calling (660) 747-8123 or on Twitter at @DerekBrizendine.

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