Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

November 20, 2012

Safety should be a Thanksgiving priority, officials say

Jackson Adams
Effingham Daily News

EFFINGHAM — Burns, bacteria and grease fires aren't what most people have in mind when they plan their Thanksgiving meals.

But food retailers and emergency personnel said some precautions are necessary so celebrations don't turn into tragedies.

Fred Nuxoll, owner of Nuxoll Food Center in Effingham, said he was bringing the meat to his family's celebration. For those families who are preparing the traditional Thanksgiving turkey at home, there are several things they should keep in mind.

"You want the internal temperature to be at 190 degrees," he said. "180 is safe but you really want 190."

Nuxoll said that although the thickness of the meat can change the oven temperature at which turkey needs to be cooked, the final internal temperature would remain the same.

Nuxoll also said cooking turkey next to other meats can create some safety hazards.

"Make sure you keep your meats separate," he said. "Don't cook your ham or chicken right next to your turkey. There's bacteria, salmonella and other things that can spread."

While making sure meats are prepared properly is a priority, other precautions need to be taken to keep the whole family safe. Firefighter Tasha Lange, public education coordinator for the Effingham Fire Department, said the kitchen is generally where safety should be a top priority.

"That's where everyone is going to gather," she said. "Be very watchful of burns and spills and grease fires. Keep kids away from the oven to prevent burns when things are coming out and having a box of baking soda works wonders on a grease fire. Just sprinkle that on the fire, but don't use water."

Nuxoll and Lange said deep fryers are one of the more common and dangerous potential problems for families on Thanksgiving.

"We had a really valuable customer burn his garage down deep frying a turkey a couple of years ago," Nuxoll said. "The oil started to overflow and that was just about it."

Lange said certain basic precautions can be taken to prevent fires from starting and to prepare for the worst.

"The oil is the main thing," she said. "You want to keep the levels low and want to use safety when putting the turkey in or taking it out. Have a fire extinguisher nearby. Any combustibles you have, you should keep away."

Lange said if a fire starts after a frying accident, cooks should call for help right away.

"They can call 911 immediately," she said. "Having an extinguisher on hand is going to be very helpful, but it is a grease fire."

Jackson Adams can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 131, or jackson.adams@effinghamdailynews.com.