Many people travel during the holidays to get together with family and friends. Always be sure to follow posted speed limits. This is much easier if you plan ahead and leave early. You won’t be as irritated when you get stuck behind a slow driver and will be less tempted to press your luck (and safety) by speeding.
Take special caution when driving in rainy or dark conditions. The holidays are a beautiful time, but the weather doesn’t always stay beautiful to match. It is more difficult to see hazards in low-light conditions and your car takes longer to stop when roads are wet. Never, ever use cruise control when it is raining as your anti-lock braking system will not operate properly. Lastly, never use your hazards while driving. Hazard lights are to signal motorists that you are stopped— and stationary— by the side of the road. Moving while using your hazard lights is confusing to other drivers and can result in vehicle accidents.
Country roads are everywhere in Madison County and so are deer— scan the road and the shoulders up ahead of you. Be alert for deer, as they can total your car and cause significant bodily harm. When driving with children in the car, do not allow the children to distract the driver. It is always easiest to travel with another responsible adult to manage siblings’ squabbles and dropped toys.
Driving a long way? Get or perform a tune-up on your car before you leave to avoid malfunctions on the road. When driving a long way and especially after all that tasty turkey, it is easy to get sleepy while driving. Driving sleepy is just as dangerous as driving intoxicated. If you are driving alone, pull over at a gas station or rest stop and nap. Do not rely on caffeine, loud music or cold air conditioning to keep you awake. An hour nap could save your life. If you are driving with another licensed adult, switch drivers to avoid fatigue.
The other hallmark of Thanksgiving is feasts. This involves a lot of cooking, which can be dangerous. Twice as many cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving than any other day of the year. Safety is as important in the kitchen as it is on the road.
When allowing little ones to help, be sure not to exceed their knowledge or capabilities. Young children might be very helpful at stirring cookie dough, but discretion should be used with hot or sharp objects.
Never leave the stove in use and unattended. It is too easy for frying, boiling or broiling foods to catch fire. Also, it is important for an adult to be present in the kitchen so that hungry or curious kids don’t touch hot pans or sharp tools. Instruct children that the stovetop does not have to be hot or even red to still be hot— children should never touch stove burners.
If you do experience a cooking fire, do not put water on it. Most cooking fires involve cooking oil of some sort, which only spreads when mixed with water. Have a lid (and oven mitts) ready so that you can smother a pan fire. Be sure the lid fits the pan you are using or this technique will not be effective.
In the kitchen, use a timer; when frying, use a thermometer. A fryer that is not equipped with a thermometer control can easily overheat oil to the point of catching fire. A timer allows a cook to pay attention to other tasks while using the oven without burning what’s inside.
Prevent burns by wearing short sleeves or rolling up long sleeves. Do not wear loose clothing or dangling jewelry while cooking (bangle bracelets get hot). Pull long hair back to keep it away from hot burners and fryers. Use oven mitts to handle hot cookware and be aware that utensils left by the stove may become hot.
Use turkey fryers safely. Turkey fryers can tip over easily. Be sure they are on a solid, even surface. Place it carefully away from overhangs, garages, trees, etc. Fryers should be away from flammable objects. Keep pets and children away from fryers. Measure oil carefully, remembering to leave room for the turkey: an overfilled fryer will spill hot grease onto the burner and case a big fire. Thaw your turkey thoroughly. A partially frozen turkey will splatter oil everywhere and on everyone. A frozen turkey is even more dangerous; only fry turkeys that are completely thawed.
The Madison Fire Rescue reminds citizens that proper safety techniques are the best tradition your family can pass down from year to year. Thanksgiving is not fun for anyone when a fire or injury is the result of poor practices.