Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Stay Thankful (and Safe!) - Thanksgiving Holiday Safety Tips

Written by: Katy Golden, intern staff contributor

As the Thanksgiving holiday quickly approaches, we as Americans have many things to be thankful for. For example, we can be thankful for the methods of transportation that allow us to get to our families, whether by road, train, plane, or bus. The American Red Cross would like to provide you with travel tips so that you may arrive safely at your destination and celebrate this holiday with friends and family. Although your thoughts may be consumed with turkeys, we would also like to remind you of a few safety tips to use while preparing your Thanksgiving feast.

Many holiday travelers will get to their Thanksgiving destination by car. In order to ensure your safety, the American Red Cross recommends the following safety tips for travelers who are driving to visit their loved ones this Thanksgiving:

·         Make sure the vehicle is in good working order.
·         Start out with a full tank of gas, check the tire air pressure and make sure the windshield fluid is full.
·         Buckle up, slow down, don’t drive impaired. Designate a driver who won’t drink.
·         Be well rested and alert.
·         Use caution in work zones.
·         Give one’s full attention to the road.  Avoid distractions such as cell phones.
·         Observe speed limits – driving too fast or too slow can increase the chance of being in a collision.
·         Make frequent stops.  During long trips, rotate drivers.  If the driver is tired, stop and get some rest.
·         Be respectful of other motorists and follow the rules of the road.
·         Don’t follow another vehicle too closely.
·         Clean the vehicle’s headlights, taillights, signal lights and windows.
·         Turn the headlights on as dusk approaches, or if using windshield wipers due to inclement weather.
·         Don’t overdrive the headlights.
·         If car trouble develops, pull off the road as far as possible.
·         The American Red Cross also recommends that you keep an emergency preparedness kit in your vehicle. Useful items include water, snacks, a flashlight, first aid kit, extra cash and blankets. Red Cross Emergency Preparedness kits are available in the Red Cross Store.

For people traveling by air, bus or train, the Red Cross reminds them that the seasonal flu can
occur as early as October. If people have come in contact with someone who is sick, perhaps the
trip should be postponed as they may be contagious for a week before symptoms appear. Other
safety tips to avoid the flu while traveling include the following:

·         Remember that everything someone touches has to be touched by someone else – luggage handlers, etc.  Handle one’s own belongings as much as possible.  Wash hands often with soap and water.
·         Carry hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial wipes and use them to wash hands or wipe down surfaces such as armrests.
·         Bring one’s own pillows and blankets – they can act as a shield against the seat itself.
·         If someone has to cough or sneeze, do so into a tissue or sleeve.
·         Avoid touching the face or eyes.

Once you have safely arrived at your destination, the American Red Cross would like to remind you of a few safety tips for cooking your Thanksgiving feast:

·         Cooks should start by not wearing loose clothing or dangling sleeves while cooking.
·         Never leave cooking food unattended – stay in the kitchen when frying, grilling or broiling food. If someone must leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, they should turn off the stove.
  • Check food regularly while cooking and remain in the home while cooking. Use a timer as a reminder that the stove or oven is on.
  • Keep the kids away from the cooking area. Enforce a “kid-free zone” and make them stay at least three feet away from the stove.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire - pot holders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, and towels or curtains—away from the stove, oven or any other appliance in the kitchen that generates heat.
  • Clean cooking surfaces on a regular basis to prevent grease buildup.
  • Purchase a fire extinguisher to keep in the kitchen. Contact the local fire department to take training on the proper use of extinguishers.
  • Always check the kitchen before going to bed or leaving the home to make sure all stoves, ovens, and small appliances are turned off.
  • Install a smoke alarm near the kitchen, on each level of the home, near sleeping areas, and inside and outside bedrooms. Use the test button to check it each month. Replace all batteries at least once a year.

House fires are the worst disaster threat to families in the United States. To learn how to prevent a fire in the home and how to keep members of the household safe, people can download The Red Cross Fire Prevention and Safety Checklist. For more information on how to remain safe while traveling and cooking this Thanksgiving, visit the Red Cross web site.

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