Make safety tomorrow’s main course

Whether you’re hosting or attending a Thanksgiving feast tomorrow, there are a slew of safety measures to be taken. These tips can help you, even if your plan is to stay at home. For instance, if you didn’t change the batteries in your smoke alarms when we changed the clocks, you should do so today.

Think you don’t need to? Well, we didn’t, and one of them went off at 4 a.m. a couple of weeks ago. We learned our lesson, didn’t we? The dang thing chirped at mating time louder than a thousand turkeys.

If you’re traveling, be sure your car is full of gas with sufficient tires inflated to the proper pressure. Before you leave the house, make sure you have filled your windshield wiper fluid. Use your seat belt and obey the speed limit. Do not drink and drive. Do I need to reiterate that? Don’t drink-drive. Period.

It’s also good to know that eating can be hazardous to your health. First off, there’s the chance of choking. Everybody can get something stuck in their throats at any moment, so everyone should be able to perform the Heimlich Manoeuvre. There’s one for infants and one for children and adults. You can learn more about both. For anyone over a year old, it’s as easy as giving them a big hug. With your fists directly above your belly button, push inwards, and upwards, from behind. Continue this until the object is removed. If you try a Heimlich and the victim isn’t responding as quickly as you think they should, call 911.

Be sure to ask about any food allergies and sensitivities before you order. For example, if you’re lactose intolerant, you may want to take an over-the-counter lactase enzyme supplement. If you’re sensitive to spicy foods, perhaps an acid neutralizer would be a good idea.

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Then there are food-borne illness. Food poisoning is also known as severe stomach pain, nausea and diarrhea. It can also lead to dehydration. It is important to keep pets away from the kitchen and clean all surfaces that you will be using for cooking. Thaw frozen food in the refrigerator or in cold water.

Always wash your hands after you have finished cooking. Never place a spoon that was used to taste food into the food without washing your hands. Keep raw and cooked foods separated and wipe up spills with a paper towel, not a cloth you’ll use for other things. Foods that need refrigeration should not be left at room temperatures for more than two hours. This is a rule that should be applied before and after dinner.

Cook food at a safe temperature. Before you bake your turkey, stuff it. The turkey should be at the right temperature before it goes into the stuffing. It should not be lower than 165°F. While the turkey is baking, it’s best to stay in the kitchen. And don’t leave the kitchen if something is cooking on the stovetop.

Remember that baking pans hot out of the oven require oven mitts to lift or move. Sharpen your knives. A dull knife will make you work harder and be more likely to slip.

Watch what you’re doing. Be mindful of your surroundings and don’t get distracted. Keep pets and small children out of the kitchen. Instead, let the larger kids help set the table, prepare the food and keep the younger ones busy.

Be careful. Hot liquids can splash into the eyes. Your fingers can be burned by lighting candles. You can also get burned fingers from lighting candles.

Thanksgiving is the busiest time for home cooking fires. This day has more than three-times the daily average. It’s also the busiest day for emergency plumbing needs. As far as emergencies go, Bonner General Health’s Emergency Department is there for you. We prefer that you enjoy your friends and family without the need for bandages, crutches or medication.

Do not stress. Remember that all the mishaps that don’t involve ending up in the hospital can be laughed about on Friday. Have a great Thanksgiving!

Kathy Hubbard is a member the Bonner General Health Foundation Advisory Council. She can be reached at [email protected]

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