Thanksgiving is a day that brings family and friends together to give thanks and gather around good food and maybe some football. But whether you are a traveler, a diner or a cook, be safety-minded during this busy holiday.
One of commands' primary concerns during holidays is travel safety, said James Peake, Naval Support Activity Washington's (NSAW) safety and occupational health director.
"Thanksgiving is the most traveled holiday of the year," said Peake. "When you plan, you have a guide and it makes the trip go a lot smoother. Plan your trips to leave early when you are going and on your way back."
The Naval Safety Center recommends that drivers and passengers plan accordingly to avoid rushing, always wear a seatbelt, and avoid tired driving. Peake also advises that drivers also be mindful of weather conditions throughout their trip.
"When it comes to driving make sure you take breaks, preferably every couple of hours. Just get out and walk around for ten to fifteen minutes," said Peake. "Weather conditions are another one, if the weather is bad give space between the vehicles in front of you to allow for stopping time."
An additional resource widely used by command leaders is the Travel Risks Planning System (TRiPS), to avoid possible hazards while driving. Sailors can download the automated risk-assessment tool through the NSC website or through Navy Knowledge Online.
"Arriving at your destination safely is the first step in having a happy holiday," added Edward Lewis, occupational safety and health specialist at NSAW.
Food preparation is also important to consider during the holiday. Safe food handling habits and hand washing will prevent bacterial contamination of food while it is being prepared. When cooking a turkey, the U.S. Department of Agriculture advises using a meat thermometer to check that the thigh and breast meat reaches at least 165 degrees at their thickest parts. This will ensure the meat is thoroughly cooked before eating.
In addition to making sure food is prepared safely, safety officials advise all to consider the risk for injury while cooking as well.
"If you've got a lot of traffic going through your kitchen on Thanksgiving, keeping pots and pans on a steady surface with the handles turned inward will prevent accidental spills and possible burns as a result," said Bert Nash, occupational safety and health specialist at NSAW. "Another thing to consider is fire safety. Closely monitor what you're cooking, and make sure you're cooking in a safe space."
Nash added that turkey cooking methods other than ovens, such as smokers and deep fryers, require more supervision and open space than a conventional oven to operate safely.
"These are popular devises to use when cooking a turkey, but they need to be used in an open, outdoor area with a fire extinguisher nearby," said Nash. "With deep fryers especially, the possibility of fire is high due to the oil boiling over on to the heat source, so knowing exactly how much oil to use in relation to the turkey can prevent a hazard situation."
Lewis added that following the recommended guidelines on any cooking device will prevent fire or injury while preparing a meal like Thanksgiving dinner.
To ensure that personnel are properly educated about Thanksgiving safety, Naval Support Activity Washington will be hosting a safety stand down Nov. 15 at the Washington Navy Yard, building 220 in the third floor auditorium, to cover a variety of Thanksgiving safety topics.
"We want as many people in NDW to come to this safety stand down so that we can educate everyone we can about safety during the holiday," said Lewis. "The more people that know how to be safe, the more people will be safe. Like my grandmother used to tell me, 'if you think to stop, you'll stop to think,' and we need people to think of safety."
For more holiday safety tips visit www.safetycenter.navy.mil/.