Follow these Turkey Day safety tips

  • Published
  • By Jim Bono
  • 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

As the Joint Base San Antonio community gathers for the Thanksgiving holiday, it is important to remember a few timely safety tips to ensure that the holiday is enjoyed by all. Fire, food, and travel are the main concerns this time of year.

“The Thanksgiving holiday is the most traveled time of the year. The sheer number of travelers on the roads increases the likelihood of accidents," said Staff Sgt. Heather Harris, occupational safety technician with the 502nd Air Base Wing Safety Office.

Service members can also follow safety tips from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to ensure a safe drive:

  • Inspect tires to avoid a blowout and check the spare tire to ensure it is properly inflated.
  • Make sure windshield wipers work and replace worn blades. Fill the windshield wiper fluid reservoir.
  • Plan travel by checking the weather, road conditions, and traffic. Leave early, if necessary to safely get to a destination.
  • Carry emergency equipment including a snow shovel, ice scraper, jumper cables, flashlight, flares or emergency markers, blankets, mobile phone with charger, water, food, and first aid kit.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, whether you’re cooking a whole bird or a part of it, such as the breast, you should take special care to prevent food poisoning. Follow the steps below to safely store, thaw, handle and cook your turkey:

  • Store your turkey properly
  • Frozen raw turkey should be stored in the freezer until you are ready to thaw it.
  • Fresh raw turkey can be stored in the refrigerator for one to two days before cooking.
  • Thaw your turkey in the refrigerator keeping your turkey in its original wrapping and place it in a container before putting it in the refrigerator. Allow about 24 hours of thawing for each 4 to 5 pounds of turkey. A turkey thawed in the refrigerator can remain in the refrigerator once it’s been thawed for 1 to 2 days before cooking. Thaw your turkey in cold water.
  • Allow about 30 minutes of thawing for each pound of turkey.
  • A turkey thawed in cold water must be cooked immediately after thawing.

Thaw your turkey in the microwave. A turkey thawed in the microwave must be cooked immediately after thawing. To roast a turkey in your oven, set the oven temperature to at least 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the turkey in a roasting pan that is 2 to 2 1/2 inches deep. Cooking time depends on the weight of the turkey and whether it is stuffed. Use a food thermometer to make sure your turkey has reached a safe internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

"Kitchen safety is even more important than usual during busy holiday times like Thanksgiving when more people might be working in the kitchen to prepare a large meal," Harris said.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, Thanksgiving is the peak day for cooking fires. Some helpful tips include:

  • Stay in the kitchen when cooking on the stovetop.
  • Stay home when cooking a turkey and check on it frequently.
  • Keep children away from the stove. If the stove is hot, kids should stay three feet away.
  • Keep the floor clear to avoid tripping hazards.
  • Keep knives out of the reach of children.
  • Be sure electric cords from an electric knife, coffee maker, plate warmer or mixer are not dangling off the counter within easy reach of a child.
  • Keep matches and utility lighters out of reach of children.
  • Make sure smoke alarms are working.

If you are interested in frying a turkey, the Joint Base San Antonio Safety Office has provided the following tips to help make it a safe operation.

  • Keep outdoor fryers off decks, out of garages and a safe distance away from trees and other structures.
  • Make sure the turkey is thawed and dry before cooking. Ice or water that mixes into the hot oil can cause flare-ups.
  • Watch the weather. Never operate a fryer outdoors in the rain or snow
  • Place the fryer on a level surface, and avoid moving it once it's in use, leave 2 feet between the tank and the burner when using a propane-powered fryer
  • Choose a smaller turkey for frying. A turkey that's 8 to 10 pounds is best; pass on turkeys more than 12 pounds.
  • Purchase a fryer with temperature controls and watch the oil temperature carefully. Cooking oil that is heated beyond its smoke point can catch fire. If you notice the oil is smoking, turn the fryer off.
  • Turn off the burner before lowering the turkey into the oil. Once the turkey is submerged, turn the burner back on.

For more information or tips on Thanksgiving safety, contact the JBSA Safety Office at 210-466-4630.

(Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on on Nov. 22, 2022.)