Thanksgiving is all about family and feasting. But to keep your holiday joyful, you need to keep safety in mind, whether traveling or celebrating at home.
At home, fire safety should be a major consideration, and you should take extra care in the kitchen. Almost 50 percent of all home fires start in the kitchen. In addition:
• Don't leave cooking food unattended, and turn the handles of pots and pans toward the rear of the stove. Take special care to keep flammable items, such as dish cloths and pot holders, away from stove burners.
• If contents of a pot catch fire, extinguish flames with a metal lid, and never put water on a grease fire. If you're frying your turkey, always cook outdoors on a solid surface, never leave it unattended, and keep children and pets far away.
Avoid food-borne illnesses by taking special care when preparing and cooking the turkey:
• Safely thaw frozen turkeys in the refrigerator — about a day for every five pound — and make sure the turkey is completely thawed before cooking.
• Don't wash the turkey. Numerous studies found that washing poultry spreads germs throughout the kitchen. Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently with warm, soapy water every time you touch raw poultry, and make sure to thoroughly clean all areas the turkey touches.
• Cook turkey until all parts, including stuffing, reach 165˚F. Use a meat thermometer (If you don't have one, buy one), and don't rely on pop-up gauges.
Whether traveling by car or flying home for the holidays, pack a good measure of patience:
• If driving, start with a full tank of gas and give yourself plenty of time to drive to and from your destination.
• Use your GPS or Smartphone to find the quickest route and avoid traffic jams. If possible, avoid traveling on Wednesday and Sunday when Thanksgiving traffic is heaviest.
• If you're flying home, pack lightly, arrive at the airport early, and use technology to save time by printing boarding passes at home — or have your boarding pass on your smartphone.
• Keep well-hydrated during your flight, and consider taking elderberry extract. One randomized, double-blind placebo Australian trial found that elderberry significantly reduced the risk of colds and flu that often follow long-haul flights.
• Try to avoid flying on Wednesday by flying out earlier in the week or even early Thanksgiving morning. Get home with less stress by traveling home on Friday while everyone else is shopping.
Last but not least, don't forget to truly give thanks. Being grateful, according to studies, boosts your immune system and helps you manage the stress of the holiday season. In addition, skip an after-dinner nap. Instead, take a walk with your family and friends.
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