Even with all the jokes about the interaction of families and the related stress on Thanksgiving Day, it’s roots originated as a day of giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest which became an annual tradition in the United States in 1863 by presidential proclamation. All most four score years later in 1941 Federal legislation set the celebration of Thanksgiving on the 4th Thursday in November and here we are. As thankful and grateful as we may be this innocent looking day of celebration with parades, football, overeating and retail sales can also be the most dangerous day of the year!
Thanksgiving day has earned this reputation on several levels as the number of fatal traffic accidents just about triple on this day. Domestic violence reports to police departments increase by 22%. If this wasn’t enough, the chance of a fire in your home on this day more than doubles! Unfortunately there will be about 4,000 kitchen fires across the nation.
So how do you still have fun and give your family and guest an awesome experience? Would you like me to share that secret with you. It’s a secret family recipe going back, 3 generations. It’s called – Preparation. As with cooking and safety, preparation is the difference to a great safe holiday experience or a day waiting in the local E.R. Be prepared for the worst, enjoy the best, or as my friend Ruby at Your Social Success says –
Here are some things to plan and be aware of.
– Choking – With all the great food, conversation and commotion going on it’s possible for someone especially kids and seniors to have a piece of food like a walnut or piece of candy go down the wrong pipe. Brush up on your Heimlich maneuver. If you have young kids get them involved and have them demonstrate to your guests before dinner the universal sign for choking like a pre-flight safety demo.
– Trips & Falls – Due to the size of your guest list you may have to expand your seating capacity by adding tables or moving into a larger area not usually used for dining. Watch for trip hazards in the new set up like the edge of a fireplace hearth that may be blocked from vision causing a trip. If you need to use extension cords cover them and tape it down to avoid trips. Area rugs, bear rugs and child toys, keep it clear, you don’t want Grandma slipping and falling and having an extended stay at your home.
– Kitchen – This is where all the magic happens along with the chance of a fire doubling. Remember, the main reason fires begin is distracted cooking and/or using too high a heat. When you’re trying to entertain a house full of guests along with your critical mother-in-law it’s a challenge to keep things on the kitchen stove and oven under control. Just about everyone has a smart phone these days, use the timers and alarms to help remind you to keep on point. Whether you rotate family members to monitor the stove so you can mingle or not, just make sure someone is watching and make sure they all know where the fire extinguisher is kept. Also keep flammable items like paper towels, oven mitts and dish towels away from burners and don’t bother wearing the blouse mom bought you last Christmas with the long fluffly sleeves that you never wear. You don’t want to be a human torch. Having an Aloe plant near by or a tube of Aloe Vera is great for those small burns. Best to run cold tap water over the burn and then use the aloe. Make sure little hands can’t get to the knives, blenders, mixers or their electrical cords and pull them down onto themselves. Have all handles for pots and pans facing to the side on the stove top.
It’s fine to encourage the kids to participate in the preparation and cooking but with all the activity going on you want to keep them safe as well so have an area set up in the kitchen where they can accomplish small tasks and feel part of the process but keep the area around the stove free and clear of kid traffic at all times. A wad of pie dough and small rolling pin can keep them busy for quite awhile.
– Cross Contamination – You’re heard the expression, too many chefs can spoil the broth? There’s something to be said about that as when you have family members all trying to help it’s possible to cross contaminate the counter or utensils after touching raw meat or fowl. Set separate areas and cutting boards for preparation of raw proteins, raw vegetables and cooked items. Remember to wash your hands before preparing or touching food.
Make sure what ever appliances you use that you follow the manufacturers guidelines and if you absolutely, positively have to fix it now remember to unplug it before touching anything.
– One last tidbit – I know at the point when everyone has gone home you just want to collapse into a comfy chair and finish that bottle of wine but first take a walk around your home and make sure everything is turned off, like the oven, candles or other smoking materials are properly extinguished and no liquid spills on the floor. If you did use the fireplace, don’t assume the ambers in there are out. Place the ash in a metal container and avoid the guess work. Using a paper or plastic container the ambers can smolder for hours and long after you’ve gone to sleep erupt into flame.
Don’t let a lapse in safety spoil your holiday.