14 Thanksgiving Kitchen Safety Tips

Continuing the theme started yesterday with our Thanksgiving travel safety tips, we’ve compiled 14 Thanksgiving Kitchen Safety Tips to help you and your family enjoy your feast.

Cooking Safety tips

  1. Thaw your turkey correctly
    Never leave your bird on the counter at room temperature to thaw – this will create a breeding ground for bacteria! You can thaw it in your microwave, in a leak proof bag in a cold water filled sink or cooler or in a container in the refrigerator.
    – If you choose the microwave method, check your owners manual for model specific directions before moving forward.
    – If you choose to leave it in a sink or cooler filled with cold water, give your turkey 30 minutes for every pound. Change the water every 30 minutes to keep the temperature cold.
    – If you choose the slowest but safest to thaw it in the refrigerator, it takes 24hrs for every 4 or 5lbs of turkey – do the math today if you’re planning to use this method to ensure it’s thawed in time to go in the oven or fryer.


  2. Fry your turkey outside!
    Grease fires are unfortunately VERY common on this holiday. It doesn’t matter how high your ceiling is, take the fryer outside and away from your house – not in the garage or under a carport. Before you begin, look up to make sure there’s nothing that could catch fire above your head like branches, cables or your porch. If you’ll be frying a turkey this year, we have a full list of turkey frying tips later this week!
    Thanksgiving fryer safety
    Image courtesy of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
  3. Sharpen Your Knives
    I know it sounds counterintuitive, but most people will cut themselves with dull knives, not sharp blades.   
    When your blades get dull, you’ll exert more pressure to accomplish a task than you would with a sharp knife. When you start putting pressure on the knife, they can slip off of what you’re trying to cut and find a finger or part of your hand instead. We all want to add a personal touch to our dishes, but not that way. Take a few minutes to run your knives over a sharpening steel, ceramic sharpener or my personal favorite, sharpening stones.


  4. Keep your cutting tools dry
    Slippery knife handles, wet floors and wet cutting boards can be dangerous in any kitchen, but especially in a busy Thanksgiving kitchen.  Keep these items dry to prevent you from slipping or keep them from moving unexpectedly. You can place a non-slip pad or even a moist towel under your cutting board to prevent it from moving – just make sure the towel is only damp instead of dripping wet. Keep a few dry towels or rags handy to soak up any spills that may take place.


  5. Avoid loose clothing and sleeves
    When you have knives, hot pans, and flames from a gas range all in a busy kitchen, a loose dangling sleeve can catch any of these items and cause unwanted calamity and injury.

  6. Turn handles to the back or side
    A pot handle hanging over the edge of your stove is a recipe for something you don’t want on the Thanksgiving menu. It’s easy to hit the handle and knock over a pot of boiling liquid as you’re putting something into the oven or taking something out.


  7. Keep your pot holders dry
    A dry pot holder is a cool pot holder.  Moisture transfers temperature quickly which is why you can cool a can of soda by wrapping it in a wet paper towel and putting it in the freezer faster than just placing it in the freezer. Unfortunately, a wet oven mitt or pot holder will almost immediately transfer the heat directly to your hand.  Silicone pot holders never retain moisture, but some aren’t thick enough to hold heavier items like a 15lbs Thanksgiving turkey.

  8. Grease fires
    Thanksgiving is the single worst holiday for home fires. Once the oil heats up past the smoking point, it quickly approaches the flash point where it can ignite without any flames being present. Distractions are often the cause of grease fires – so stay in the kitchen. Grease can ignite when it comes in contact with heating elements in an oven too so be careful when pulling the turkey from the oven! Use an ABC fire extinguisher to put out grease fires and never use water.
  9. ABC Extinguishers
    Every kitchen should have an ABC rated fire extinguisher. You can buy one at most home improvement and hardware stores. If you have one, but have never used it, here’s a video to show you how. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=58naKHqpCWo
  10. Meat thermometers are your friends
    Food poisoning on Thanksgiving, or any day, is terrible. Grab one of these helpful devices from your grocery store and use it to check the internal temperature of your bird. 40-140 degrees is the danger zone for bacteria. Cook your turkey long enough to get the internal temperature up to 165 degrees. https://www.cdc.gov/features/turkeytime/index.html

  11. Keep the kids out of the kitchen
    We all want our children to be helpful to others, but a busy kitchen may not be the best place for them to help. Sharp knives, hot stovetops, boiling pots of water, and hot dishes can all be dangerous. Turning pot handles away from the edge not only prevents you from accidentally knocking them over, but will prevent little hands from pulling them off the stove.


  12. Tape or tie cords
    Slow cookers and crock pots will cook and keep dishes hot until it’s time to eat. If their cords dangle below a countertop or on the ground, they can be caught around an ankle resulting in the hot dish being poured on the ground or on a small child or somebody sitting close by.

  13. Peanut allergies
    If you use peanut oil to cook, add a note next to your dish to let people know. People with peanut allergies don’t have to eat peanuts to have a reaction. They can have a reaction just from eating a dish that was cooked with peanut oil.

  14. Lift with your legs
    Pulling a heavy pan with a 20lbs turkey out of an oven can put a lot of strain on your lower back. Bend at your knees and use your legs when picking up heavy pans and dishes. When in doubt, ask somebody for a hand.

We hope you found these Thanksgiving kitchen safety tips helpful.  If you missed our post from yesterday with 10 Thanksgiving Travel Safety tips, you can read it here.  

Check back with us tomorrow for another list that focuses on your health.  Until then, what tips do you have that will help keep people safe in a busy kitchen?  

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