What do you love most about Thanksgiving? Although some people might instinctively say the fantastic food or football games, I think we can all agree that only two aspects of the holiday are absolutely crucial: gratitude and gathering with family and friends. So take a moment this year to reflect on how grateful you are to have such wonderful people in your life. Don’t take for granted the fact that your loved ones are healthy and able to celebrate with you. And to ensure that they stay healthy throughout the holiday season, check out our tips for how to have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.
How to Have a Safe and Happy Thanksgiving
Wash Your Hands Frequently
Thanksgiving is a perfect storm of risk factors when it comes to the spread of germs: more people are traveling, families are gathering together indoors, the weather is colder, food is being prepared for large groups, leftovers are saved after the big meal, and flu season is ramping up. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), washing your hands is one of the best ways to protect yourself and your family from illness. Wash your hands often and thoroughly, using warm water and soap. On Thanksgiving Day, be sure to wash your hands at all of the following times:
- Before, during, and after preparing food (especially after handling raw meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs)
- Before eating food
- After using the toilet or changing a diaper
- After caring for someone who is sick
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
- After touching an animal, animal food, or animal waste
- After touching garbage
Additionally, make sure that everyone who decides to help in the kitchen begins by washing their hands. Teach your children the importance of washing their hands, and remind people to wash their hands after they’ve handled meat or rubbed Fido’s belly.
When you’re on the go, carry a convenient hand sanitizer, like SafeSpace’s Instant Hand Sanitizer, in case you don’t have access to a sink and soap. It immediately reduces the number of germs and bacteria on the skin.
Manage Your Stress
Though the holidays are meant to be a time of joy, they’re often quite stressful. If you’re already getting frazzled thinking about how you’re going to fit so much into your schedule – grocery shopping, successfully cooking a smorgasbord, roasting the turkey without burning or undercooking it, watching football, keeping your family happy, etc. – take a deep breath. Whatever happens, you’ll have a happy holiday if you keep a good attitude. And to lower your stress levels, use the following tips:
- Find support. Lean on friends and family, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
- Give yourself a break. Enjoy an activity you find relaxing, such as a bath or meditation.
- Stay active. Exercising is an excellent way to reduce your stress levels.
- Get plenty of sleep. While you may be busy, never sacrifice your sleep. Sleep deprivation can impact your health, safety, mood, and much more.
Stress affects your health and happiness (as well as the happiness of those around you) so it’s crucial if you’re wondering how to have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.
Prepare Your Food Safely
Thanksgiving is the most food-focused day of the year for most Americans. Whether you’re shopping for groceries, preparing the food, or putting away leftovers, you need to be aware of several important food safety guidelines:
- Refrigerate food promptly. After grocery shopping, don’t run other errands before you return home and put your perishables in the refrigerator. If that isn’t possible, take a cooler with you to keep foods at a safe temperature. In addition, be sure to put your leftovers away within two hours of preparation.
- Thaw your turkey responsibly. Frozen turkeys are safe indefinitely. But as soon as you begin thawing your turkey, you risk the development of bacteria. Thaw your turkey in the fridge if possible (give yourself plenty of time – it will take 24 hours for each 4-5 pounds of turkey in a fridge set at 40°F or below). According to the CDC, you can also safely thaw a turkey in a sink of cold water (changing the water every 30 minutes) or in the microwave. Never thaw your turkey on the countertop. Bacteria can grow rapidly when a turkey is left out at room temperature for more than two hours.
- Watch out for cross-contamination. When you’re crafting a huge meal like Thanksgiving dinner, it’s very easy to accidentally let foods or their juices mix, causing cross-contamination, which is “the transfer of harmful bacteria to food from other foods, cutting boards, utensils, etc.” (source). These bacteria can produce food-borne illnesses. Be especially careful when you’re handling raw meat, poultry, and seafood, keeping these items, their juices, and any utensils or cutting boards they come into contact with away from other ingredients.
- Cook your stuffing thoroughly. Ideally, you will cook your stuffing separately in a casserole dish to ensure it cooks thoroughly. But if you do wish to cook it inside the turkey, place it in the bird just before cooking (source). In addition, check that the stuffing reaches at least 165°F to kill off any bacteria, and don’t remove the stuffing from the turkey until 20 minutes after removing the bird from the oven.
- Use a calibrated food thermometer. The best way to ensure that your food cooks thoroughly, killing off any bacteria, is to use a calibrated food thermometer. Don’t trust a pop-up timer. According to Consumer Reports, after testing 21 pop-up thermometers, three of the timers popped when the meat was still below the safe zone. While most of the timers did pop when the turkey had reached a safe temperature, why risk it? If your turkey isn’t fully cooked, your entire family could suffer from food poisoning. Yikes!
Looking for more food safety tips? Check out our blog post Food Safety for the Holidays.
Beware of Germs While Traveling
Will you be traveling to visit family or friends this Thanksgiving? Whether you’re driving, flying, or taking the train, you’re going to come into contact with a lot of germs. Use the following tips to steer clear of germs and ensure that you stay healthy this holiday season:
- Deodorize your car. Whether you’ll be driving your own car or a rental car, use SafeSpace’s Auto Disinfecting & Deodorizing Mist before you hit the road. After removing all people and pets from the vehicle, simply shake the product and spray it directly into the dash vents and onto the steering wheel, drink holders, door handles, and floor mat. Then exit the vehicle and wait 15-20 minutes. While you’re away, the handy spray will eliminate odor-producing organisms.
- Carry hand sanitizer. Washing your hands frequently and thoroughly is crucial when you’re traveling, but sometimes you won’t have access to soap and warm water when you’re on the go. For this reason, it’s important to carry hand sanitizer with you at all times. SafeSpace’s Instant Hand Sanitizer is available in a travel-friendly pump bottle, perfect for your carry-on luggage.
- Disinfect your hotel room. Will you be staying in a hotel or a motel this Thanksgiving? If so, you can’t know for sure whether the staff had time to disinfect all the surfaces of your room, especially those hard-to-reach spots. So after you check in, consider using SafeSpace’s Disinfectant & Deodorizing Germ Fogger to kill 99 percent of germs responsible for colds, the flu, staph, MRSA, and more. Be sure to put a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door so that the staff doesn’t accidentally come in while the product is dispersing its mist.
You can’t be too careful when you’re traveling. If you’re wondering how to have a safe and happy Thanksgiving, Christmas, and even New Year’s Eve, check out our blog post Tips for Traveling During the Holidays.
Now that you know how to have a safe and happy Thanksgiving, you may need to stock up on a few germ-fighting essentials from SafeSpace.
The SafeSpace Company is a family-owned small business proudly selling American-made products to keep your family safe and healthy. To avoid germs this holiday season, stock up on disinfectant essentials with the SafeSpace Germ Fighter Kit. You’ll get everything you need to keep yourself and your family healthy: hand sanitizers, disinfecting and deodorizing mists, and disinfectant foggers. This handy kit makes a great Christmas gift as well!
Copyright SafeSpace Company 2019