PRINCETON, NJ - Millions of people will travel to spend their Thanksgiving holiday with loved ones and the American Red Cross has steps they can follow to help make sure they have a safe trip.

The holiday is also a time when cooks spend a lot of time in the kitchen and there are tips they can use to avoid a cooking fire while whipping up their Thanksgiving dinner.

“Thanksgiving is one of the busiest times of year for travelers and we want to help everyone remain safe as they visit with loved ones,” said Paul Gass, regional preparedness manager, American Red Cross New Jersey Region. “Cooking is a leading cause of home fires, so we are encouraging cooks to take steps to avoid a fire.”

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TRAVEL SAFETY

If plans include driving, travelers should check the weather along their route and plan for travel around any storms that may be coming. 

Everyone should use their seat belts and no one should drink and drive. Drivers should be well rested and alert and give their full attention to the road – no cell phones. Other driving safety tips include:

  • Follow the rules of the road – observe the speed limit.
  • Use caution in work zones.
  • Make frequent stops. During long trips, rotate drivers.
  • Don’t follow another vehicle too closely.
  • Clean your headlights, taillights, signal lights and windows to help you see, especially at night.
  • Turn your headlights on as dusk approaches, or if you are using your windshield wipers due to inclement weather.

COOKING SAFETY

Cooks should avoid wearing loose clothing or dangling sleeves while preparing the holiday meal. Never leave the stove unattended – if the cook has to leave the kitchen even for a short time, they should turn off the stove. More cooking safety steps are: 

  • Check food regularly.
  •  Use a timer as a reminder that the stove or oven is on.
  • Keep children and pets away from the cooking area.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire - pot holders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, and towels or curtains—away from the stove, oven or any other appliance in the kitchen that generates heat.
  • Clean cooking surfaces on a regular basis to prevent grease buildup.
  • Consider purchasing a fire extinguisher to keep in the kitchen.
  • Always check the kitchen before going to bed or leaving the home to make sure all stoves, ovens, and small appliances are turned off.

“People can also download the free Red Cross First Aid App to have information at their fingertips if an emergency occurs,” said Gass. “They can find out more about all of the Red Cross apps at redcross.org/apps.”

About the American Red Cross
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

About the American Red Cross in New Jersey 
The American Red Cross provides programs and services to a population of 8.8 million in New Jersey. The Red Crosstrains and mobilizes more than 5,800 volunteers who support the delivery of services throughout the state. In New Jersey, last year, the Red Cross responded to 889 local disasters, mostly home fires, helping 1,820 displaced families; collected 88,439 units of blood through blood drives and Red Cross Blood Donation Centers; provided 3,920 military family case services with emergency messages, helping families find assistance and/or get counseling and referrals; and trained 117,088 individuals with life-saving skills in preparedness, CPR, AED use, first aid and aquatics. Follow us on Twitter@RedCrossNorthNJ and @RedCrossSouthNJ.