Hosting guests for Thanksgiving comes with many responsibilities. You need to make sure guests are comfortable, enjoying good food, and having a great time. In the rush of holiday preparations, one can easily forget about guest safety. People rarely think about issues like illnesses or accidents during festivities, but they can happen. Here’s a look at five ways to keep guests safe during Thanksgiving:
1. Handle the Thanksgiving Turkey Carefully
All kinds of meat require careful preparation before they’re safe to consume. Turkey is no exception, so you must follow the right procedure. Here are some tips that can help:
- Buy a turkey a few days in advance and freeze it.
- Never get a fresh turkey or a pre-stuffed one because they’re can cause illnesses.
- Thaw it entirely in your refrigerator. A 4-5lbs bird should take around one day.
- Soak in cold water (while the meat is still in leak-proof packaging) for around 2-2.5 hours. Change the water every 30 minutes.
- Cook turkey immediately after thawing. Don’t let it sit at room temperature for long. Avoid partial or slow cooking.
- The minimum cooking temperature should be 165°F to kill all harmful microbes.
- Cook all stuffing separately if possible.
- Check the thickest part of your turkey with a thermometer to ensure it is well-cooked.
- Let it sit for at least 20 minutes before carving.
- Keep your prep area clean. Avoid touching new food and cooked food without washing hands in between. That can cause cross-contamination.
- Keep all raw meat away from other uncooked food items like vegetables.
These precautions will ensure the food is safe to eat, and your guests are safe from illnesses. As an added precaution, ask guests about their food allergies before preparing a meal.
2. Be Wary of Fire Hazards
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, kitchen fires are very common during Thanksgiving Day. On average, 4,000 occur every year, which means you must take precautions to avoid them. Here are some tips that can help:
- Make sure the kitchen isn’t cluttered, and there are no dangling items above your stove.
- Never leave frying or grilling food unattended.
- If there’s a grease fire, don’t pour water on it. Turn off the gas and carefully smother the fire with a lid. Make sure you’re wearing oven mitts for this.
- Keep a fire extinguisher in your kitchen.
- Check all smoke alarms before Thanksgiving.
- Keep an eye on all candles and fireplaces.
- Extinguish all open flames before calling it a night.
If you still experience a fire, react calmly and get out of danger without hesitation. Direct your guests to the nearest exits before doing a headcount outside.
3. Use Fresh Ingredients
Use fresh vegetables, fruits, and condiments whenever possible. Stale items can cause stomach upset, especially if they have been cross-contaminated somehow. While slightly stale bread makes for a great stuffing, it might not be the right choice for sensitive, allergy-prone people. Buy grocery items from a reliable vendor and make sure everything is clean before preparing the meal. It is easy to forget about food safety when you’re cooking dinner for a large group of people, but that is risky.
4. Be Aware of the Possibility of Choking
Choking is a frequent occurring during social dinners. People are laughing, eager to talk, and not mindful of how they eat. A piece of food can get caught in a guest’s throat as they’re trying to laugh, which can quickly turn into a serious situation. If you notice someone choking, slap their back five times with your palm. Make sure you use an adequate amount of force. If that doesn’t work, wrap your arms around them and perform the Heimlich maneuver.
If someone does become ill or injured during Thanksgiving, make sure they get medical assistance immediately.