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Make safety tomorrow’s main course

by KATHY HUBBARD Contributing Writer
| November 23, 2022 1:00 AM

Whether you’re hosting or attending a Thanksgiving feast tomorrow, there are a slew of safety measures to be taken. Even if you plan to stay home alone, there are some tips here that can be useful. 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 louder than a thousand turkeys at mating time.

If you’re traveling, be sure your car is full of gas with sufficient tires inflated to the proper pressure. Fill the windshield wiper fluid before you leave home. Wear your seat belt, go the speed limit, and do not drink and drive. Do I need to repeat that? Do not drink and drive. Period.

It’s also good to know that eating can be hazardous to your health. First off, there’s the chance of choking. Any of us can get something stuck in our throats at any time, so everyone should know how to perform the Heimlich Maneuver. There’s one for infants and one for children and adults. Go online to familiarize yourself with both types. For anyone over a year old, it’s as easy as giving them a big hug. From behind, with your fists right above the belly button, push inwards and upwards very quickly. Repeat until the object is expelled. If you try a Heimlich and the victim isn’t responding as quickly as you think they should, call 911.

If you have any food allergies or sensitivities, be sure to ask about all the ingredients in a dish. 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.

And then there are food-borne illnesses. Often called food poisoning, the symptoms include severe stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea, and fever that can lead to dehydration. Prevention includes keeping pets out of the kitchen and cleaning all cooking surfaces before you start. Thaw frozen food in the refrigerator, or in cold water, or in the microwave, not on the kitchen counter.

While cooking, wash your hands frequently. Never put a spoon used to taste food back into the food without washing it. 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 require refrigeration should never be left at room temperature for more than two hours. This is a before and after-dinner rule, so keep it in mind.

Cook food to the proper, safe temperature. If you stuff your turkey, do so right before it goes into the oven. Take its temperature deep into the stuffing. It should be no less than 165 degrees. Never leave the house while the turkey is in the oven. And don’t leave the kitchen if something is cooking on the stovetop.

Remember that baking pans coming out of the oven are really hot and require oven mitts to lift and/or move them. Make sure your knives are sharp. A dull knife makes you work harder and is more apt to slip.

Watch what you’re doing. Try hard not to be distracted. Keep small children and pets out of the kitchen and put the bigger kids to work, setting the table and helping with prep work or keeping the younger ones busy.

Be careful. Hot liquids can splash into your eyes. You can burn your fingers lighting candles. And there are a multitude of bad things that can happen if you consume too much alcohol.

Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires, with more than three times the daily average for such incidents. 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. Still, we prefer you to enjoy your family and friends without bandages, crutches, or medications.

Try not to stress out. 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 of the Bonner General Health Foundation Advisory Council. She can be reached at kathyleehubbard@yahoo.com.

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Kathy Hubbard

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