As everyone gathers the ingredients and prepares the kitchen to make a feast for Thanksgiving, the experts at BRCA want to give you a recipe for a safe cooking experience.
If it’s still frozen, don’t fry it.
It takes multiple days to prepare for this holiday. You should start preparing your ingredients and your game plan days before the big meal. You don’t want to thaw your bird on the counter uncovered or with water in the sink. These methods promote the spread of unsafe bacteria that can cause food poisoning or salmonella.
When thawed properly in the fridge, frozen turkeys take 3-4 days to thaw completely, which is essential for frying a turkey. If a turkey is not completely thawed before being dropped in the fryer, grease can explode leading to severe burns or fire hazards. A good rule of thumb to estimate how much time it might take to thaw your turkey is to plan for one day per every four pounds of turkey.
Watch our safety demonstration on the dangers of improper Turkey frying here.
Safeguard your panhandles.
It’s the big day and a pot or pan is steaming on every stove burner. Family members, young and old, are crowding the kitchen, reaching over the counter, shuffling around and getting antsy to eat. Before someone bumps into the panhandle or an impatient little hand reaches up to grab it, turn every handle away from the edge of the counter and out of reach. If possible, consider only cooking with the furthermost burners. Be aware of your surroundings and help keep the hot stuff at a safe distance until it cools down and it’s time to eat.
Another thing to be wary of is boiling water. Boiling water is the agent behind many of the scald burns we treat here at BRCA. We advise everyone to let the water cool a bit before moving it. If you are going to move a pot of boiling water, test it to make sure it is not too heavy for you to carry by yourself. Also, consider wearing heat-resistant mittens to help you get a more secure grip on the pot without the fear of burning your hands on the hot metal.
Avoid “avocado hand.”
“Avocado hand” is the term used for accidentally cutting your hand while attempting to slice a fruit or vegetable in your hand instead of on a cutting board. While a cutting board creates one more dirty dish to wash at the end of the day, it pays off by helping avoid a holiday trip to the emergency room. If cutting and slicing vegetables is a little dicey for you, consider purchasing a finger guard to protect your appendages and prepare dinner confidently.
Don’t let the pressure mount with pressure cookers.
The new cooking trend as of late is the use of pressure cookers. Pressure cookers are appliances that cook food under immense pressure and heat, making them highly hazardous if misused. Before finding a good pressure cooker recipe to feed to your family and friends, be sure you read the operating manual thoroughly. Be careful when opening the release valve after the timer goes off and it’s time to reduce the pressure! The steam that comes out is heated to a very high temperature and can cause serious first-, second- or third-degree burns. There has also been a tendency for pressure cookers to explode from pressure buildup. If you’re new at using them or unsure how to operate one, we recommend putting them away for the holiday.
If it’s hot, hide it.
Children love holidays. They have a sense of excitement and energy about them that make children extra rambunctious, curious and impatient. More importantly, it makes children want to be involved. If all adults are in the kitchen, children are more likely to want to be in the kitchen. If hot food passes from one location to another, such as the kitchen and the dining room, they’re likely to run between them. And, no matter how much you remind them that they shouldn’t be in the kitchen, they keep coming back. For that reason, make sure all crockpots, pressure cookers, rice cookers or other hot kitchen appliances are tucked against the wall and out of reach. Doing this can minimize the risk of children pulling them down or touching their hot surfaces.
If you move hot food from one location to another, make sure someone is supervising both areas. A curious child might go to the second location and accidentally pull down the hot, gooey macaroni and cheese when trying to reach for some. Most pediatric burns treated at the burn center are from accidentally pulling hot foods or liquids down on themselves. Whether they’re taking them from the counter or the microwave or the stove, you can lessen the hazard by offering to help get it for them, providing a step stool, so they are eye level with the food instead of reaching up, keeping hot items far out of reach and by keeping an eye on them and the food.
For more safety tips, read our press release on Thanksgiving safety here.