Cooking Safety Tips for Thanksgiving


One of the most delicious holidays of the year can unfortunately result in accidents or injuries. Though Thanksgiving is a busy time with plenty of family and friends causing us to multitask between cooking and visiting, a few simple reminders can keep preventable accidents at bay.

Don’t be a fire starter

From 2014 to 2016, over 2,000 fires on Thanksgiving Day occurred in residential buildings, over 50% of which were caused by cooking. Avoid becoming another stat by following these tips.

  • Check your home smoke alarms and replace batteries if they haven’t been changed recently.
  • Keep children and pets away from the stove.
  • Remain close to where the turkey is cooking to check on it frequently.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher handy in the kitchen.
  • If a grease fire happens to occur, do not douse with water. Use a fire extinguisher.

Fry like a pro

Frying a turkey is a favorite pastime for many people at Thanksgiving. Make sure your deliciously fried turkey doesn’t cause a disaster by taking a few safety steps:

  • Keep your fryer outdoors on a level surface, off of decks and at a safe distance from trees and other structures.
  • Children and pets should stay at least 3 feet away from fryer.
  • Wear a long sleeve shirt and pants when frying, along with protective equipment like gloves and goggles.
  • Defrost the turkey completely before frying, as ice and water mixed with hot grease causes fire flare-ups.
  • Don’t use a fryer in the rain.
  • Carefully follow fryer manufacturer instructions and avoid overfilling the fryer with oil.
  • Never leave the fryer unattended.
  • Turn off the burner before lowering the turkey in. Once turkey is submerged, the burner can be turned back on.
  • When finished, take the pot off the burner and allow to cool overnight on a level surface before emptying.

Cook until it’s done

It’s important to properly cook all foods in your Thanksgiving feast and remember these guidelines to avoid foodborne illnesses or upset tummies.

  • Cook your turkey to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water after touching raw food items.
  • Avoid handling raw and cooked food together.
  • Clean utensils after they are used on raw food.
  • Let the turkey sit for at least 20 minutes prior to carving to allow time for juices to settle.

TraumaOne at UF Health Jacksonville is the only adult and pediatric Level I trauma program in Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia. Our TraumaOne team is dedicated to the safety of our community. Find more resources on injury prevention at

Brian K Yorkgitis
Department: Surgery – Jacksonville

Brian K Yorkgitis D.O.

Assistant Professor; Associate Director, UF Health TraumaOne Flight Operations
Phone: (904) 244-3416