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The Holiday Mishaps to Avoid this Thanksgiving

November 22, 2023

Every Thanksgiving, home chefs go viral for fried turkeys gone wrong.

This month, the Shapiro administration is urging Pennsylvanians to follow some crucial cooking safety measures to have a happy and healthy holiday.

“Every year, cooking fires remain a persistent cause of home fires, peaking in their effect around the Thanksgiving holiday,” said State Fire Commissioner Thomas Cook. “Turkey fryers and inattentive cooking are consistently listed as the leading causes of these fires, and the life changing result of a home fire is all the more tragic knowing that they are entirely avoidable. Taking the appropriate safety precautions can and will protect the lives and property of you and your loved ones.”

Here's what you need to know:

  • House fires:  The average number of reported residential building fires on Thanksgiving Day is more than double (2.3 times more) the average number of fires in residential buildings on all other days, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.
  • Fried turkeys:  If you are planning to fry your Thanksgiving turkey, be sure to read the fryer device manual thoroughly and to check that the turkey is completely thawed.
    • Carefully measure oil levels to avoid spilling.
    • Do not leave the fryer unattended and be sure to follow temperature instructions.
    • Do not deep fry your turkey inside your garage, on your porch or deck, or inside your home.
    • Have an all-purpose fire extinguisher nearby.
  • Food safety:  As noted by the CDC, it’s important to cook foods thoroughly and keep meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs separate from all other foods at the grocery store and in your refrigerator.
    • Thaw your turkey safely in a sink of cold water or in the microwave.
    • Be sure to practice proper hand hygiene to avoid contaminating surfaces and cooking utensils.
  • Feeling sick?:  Be mindful if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or other respiratory illnesses, particularly if you will be gathering among people who may be vulnerable or immunocompromised. Testing before gathering is a useful safety step.
  • Quotable:  “It is important to use proper food safety practices as people prepare their holiday meals. Unfortunately, foodborne illnesses are common around the holidays, but they are preventable,” said Dr. Debra L. Bogen, Department of Health acting secretary. “I encourage residents to clean, separate, cook, and chill their food properly to prevent themselves and others from getting sick.”

HAP wishes everyone a happy and healthy Thanksgiving holiday. Additional tips for Thanksgiving safety are available online.