Thanksgiving Cooking Tips: Serving Up a Side of Safety
Thanksgiving is a day full of enticing smells, good company and lots of laughs – but along with the enjoyable chaos is the reality that cooking fires are three times more likely to occur on Thanksgiving than any other day of the year. In addition to cooking and entertaining, UL is reminding families to take a minute for safety. Whether you plan to keep your meal traditional with Grandma’s favorite recipes, or want to add a dash of gourmet to impress your guests, make sure these safety tips are ingredients in all your dishes.
Safety Tips for the Feast
While you get busy in the kitchen, make sure that safety doesn’t get lost in the whirlwind:
- Keep the cooking range free of clutter. Even though you have myriad dishes to prepare, don’t overload a cook top with too many pots and pans. Trying to cook all your dishes at once could cause grease to accidentally spill onto a range top and cause a fire.
- Do not try to hold your child in one arm while cooking with the other. Holding a child while cooking is an invitation for a burn. It’s best to keep your child out of the kitchen while you’re cooking.
- Never put a glass casserole or lid on the stove or over a burner. If it gets hot and explodes, it will send dangerous shards of glass in all directions.
- Do not pour water on a grease fire. Pouring water on a grease fire can cause the fire to spread. In the event of a range-top fire, turn off the burner, put on an oven mitt and smother the flames by carefully sliding a lid onto the pan. Leave the lid in place until the pot or pan is cooled.
- Evaluate appliances wisely and look for the UL mark. When purchasing electric cooking products such as electric knives, slow cookers and food processors, look for the UL mark. The UL mark is one of the most widely recognized and trusted safety symbols among consumers. Manufacturers use it to indicate that a product meets specific safety standards.
- Avoid using a turkey fryer. Because turkey fryers pose a number of distinct safety concerns, including burn and fire hazards, UL does not certify any turkey fryers. If a family decides they must use a turkey fryer this Thanksgiving, UL urges them to be extremely cautious and read its turkey fryer safety tips here.
- Keep a clean work surface. Be sure to wash surfaces, utensils, the sink and hands after handling raw food. It’s a good idea to identify one cutting board for raw meats and one for other uses.
- Un-stuff the turkey. According to the USDA, for optimum safety, stuffing a turkey is not recommended. For more even cooking, cook the stuffing outside the bird in a casserole dish until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Thaw the bird with care. If using a frozen turkey, the USDA recommends thawing it in the refrigerator in its original wrapping, in a tray or pan that can catch any juices that may leak.
- Call for help. If you’ve accidentally cooked the giblets inside the turkey, melted the “hock lock” or have any other questions about cooking your Thanksgiving bird, be safe and call the pros at the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline: 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854)
Everyday Essentials for Kitchen Safety
Kitchen safety should remain top of mind throughout the year, not just on Thanksgiving. Here are some great tips to remember in the kitchen.
- Keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen in case of emergency and know how to use it. Make sure the fire extinguisher is UL Listed and rated for grease and electrical fires. Read the directions carefully before an actual emergency occurs. The acronym P.A.S.S.can help make sure you use it properly.
- Pull the pin; Aim the spray nozzle low at the base of the fire; Squeeze the nozzle to spray the contents; Sweep back and forth as you spray the base of the fire.
- Always keep a potholder, oven mitt and lid handy while cooking.If a small fire starts in a pan on the stove, put on a flame-resistant oven mitt and smother the flames by carefully sliding the lid over the pan. Turn off the burner. Don’t remove the lid until the food has cooled.
- When removing lids on hot pans, tilt them away from you to protect your face and hands from steam. If there is an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed to prevent flames from burning you or your clothing.
- Never wear loose fitting clothing when cooking. Long, open sleeves could ignite and catch fire from a gas flame or a hot burner. Wear short, close fitting or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking. If you have long hair, be sure to tie it back.
- Keep smoke alarms connected while cooking. Smoke alarms can save lives. Make sure smoke alarms are installed and working.
- Stay in the kitchen while food is cooking. Most fires in the kitchen occur because food is left unattended.
- Turn pot handles away. Make sure that young children cannot reach a cooking pot by turning handles toward the back of the stove.
- Unplug small appliances that aren’t in use. Not only will you save the energy, but you will also avoid the potential dangers if they were to be turned on accidentally.