Planning for safety on Thanksgiving

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends cooking a turkey until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends cooking a turkey until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Turkey should be stored within four hours of serving to prevent foodborne illness. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kristan Campbell)

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- Keeping safety in mind during a Thanksgiving feast is important to make sure the holiday goes smoothly.

Safety during the holiday may begin with traveling. According to AAA nearly 51 million Americans are expected to travel this Thanksgiving.

“If you are going out of town, make sure you plan ahead,” said Senior Airman Courtney Muhl, 20th Fighter Wing safety occupational safety technician. “Check weather conditions before departure.”

Additional travel tips from the 20th FW safety office include:

-Avoid congestion on roadways.

-Get plenty of rest before a trip.

-Communicate plans with friends and family.

-If using electronic GPS, bring car chargers and maps for backup.

Additional practices include home and kitchen safety.

The 20th FW safety office had these tips for holiday decorations:

-Never use lit candles on or near a tree or other evergreens.

-Never stand on the top step of a ladder as it is used for counterbalance.

-For added electric shock protection, plug outdoor electric lights and decorations into circuits protected by ground fault circuit interrupters.

While travel and decorations are part of the Thanksgiving spirit, the meal is often the highlight of the day.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends cooking a turkey until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 F. Turkey should also be prepared separately from other foods and with separate cutting boards, plates and utensils.

“Food cannot stay on a counter for more than four hours,” said Tech. Sgt. AnneMarie Swartz, 20th Force Support Squadron production manager. “It can lead to foodborne illness.”

The increase in home cooking can often lead to accidents in the kitchen.

Thanksgiving is the leading day for home cooking fires with three times as many fires as any other day of the year. According to the National Fire Protection Association, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 1,760 home cooking fires on Thanksgiving in 2015.

Fires can be avoided by remaining attentive at the stove, never using a turkey fryer indoors, completely thawing the turkey before cooking and being careful when placing lit candles.

Thanksgiving is characterized by opening doors to friends and family while sharing thanks. The good times can continue uninterrupted if simple measures are taken to avoid hazards throughout the holiday. Prioritizing health and safety while planning holiday celebrations means Airmen and their families are able to enjoy the holiday season.