PRINCETON, NJ - Millions of people will travel to spend their Thanksgiving holiday with loved ones and the American Red Cross is offering steps they can follow to ensure a safe trip and a safe meal.

According to the Red Cross, this holiday is also a time when cooks spend a lot of time in the kitchen, so the organization is offering tips to be used to avoid a cooking fire while whipping up Thanksgiving dinners.

“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 the headlights, taillights, signal lights and windows to help improve sight, especially at night.
  • Turn headlights on as dusk approaches, or if using your windshield wipers due to inclement weather.

COOKING SAFETY

Cooks should avoid wearing loose clothing or dangling sleeves while preparing the holiday meal. They should 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.”