Thanksgiving is tomorrow! Many parents thank me for the safety tips I provide throughout the year. Yet few parents are aware of the safety issues surrounding Thanksgiving. Let me provide a few tips for everyone to gobble down.
If you are visiting someone else’s home for the holidays, make sure that the home you are visiting is as safe as your own, if not safer. Check in advance that your safety concerns have been addressed (e.g. outlets have been blocked with plug covers, etc).
Be careful of foods and snacks that can pose a choking hazard to children under 4. Examples include pieces of turkey bones, peanuts, popcorn, hard candies, and raw vegetables like carrots.
Speaking of food, keep toddlers and young children out of the kitchen during cooking and baking. And keep them at least three feet away from the stove at all times. Keep those pots and panhandles turned inward toward the back of the stove so children won’t grab them. Keep hot cups of coffee or tea away from the long arms of a child who can tip them over and get a serious burn.
As to food safety, wash your hands before handling food and keep all surfaces and utensils clean. Never handle cooked and raw food together to avoid cross-contamination and a setup for food poisoning.
Speaking of food poisoning, cook the turkey at 325 degrees. This ensures that the internal temperature of the turkey reaches at least 180 degrees. That kills any bacteria or germs in the bird. A thermometer reading from the innermost part of the thigh, wing or the thickest portion of the breast can ensure that the turkey is cooked to 180 degrees.
If you do stuff the turkey, do so just before cooking. If foods are left out at room temperature for more than two hours, bacteria that cause food poisoning can begin to grow rapidly.
Hopefully tips like these will remind you that keeping your family safe and happy is a feast unto itself and something for which we can all be thankful.
Lewis First, MD, is chief of Pediatrics at The University of Vermont Children’s Hospital and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the Robert Larner, M.D. College of Medicine at the University of Vermont. You can also catch “First with Kids” weekly on WOKO 98.9FM and MyNBC 5, or visit the “First with Kids” video archives at www.UVMHealth.org/MedCenterFirstWithKids.