Thanksgiving safety tips – from traveling to deep frying the turkey

Mary McGrathHomeowners Insurance

Millions of people travel from near and far to spend Thanksgiving with loved ones – it’s one of the busiest travel times of the year. The holiday is also a time when people spend a lot of time in the kitchen whipping up their Thanksgiving dinner and all the trimmings – resulting in a spike of house fires claims. Whether you are traversing the country or assigned to monitor the turkey fryer – here are some tips to make sure you have a safe holiday.


Before you leave

Take some precautions before you go so you don’t come home to an unpleasant surprise. Thieves like privacy and don’t want interruptions, which means they’re more likely to target a place they know is unoccupied.

  • Don’t announce your travel plans over social media. A study of ex-burglars found that 4 out of 5 used social media sites like Twitter and Facebook to identify unoccupied properties.
  • Make it look like someone’s home. Put your lights on a timer, for example. You can also have a trusted friend or neighbor pick up your mail and newspapers and move your car occasionally.
  • Don’t forget to lock all windows and bolt all exterior doors. One-third of home burglaries happen through unforced entry, where thieves can get in through an open door or window.

If you are driving

If your plans include driving, make sure to check the weather along your route and plan for any adverse conditions. With an influx of people on the road, make sure to follow traffic safety rules, including wearing your seat belts. Make sure you are well rested and alert before beginning your trip and don’t drive if you start to feel drowsy. Other driving safety tips include:

  • Follow the rules of the road – observe the speed limit.
  • Use caution in work zones.
  • Don’t get distracted – avoid eating while driving, and never use your cell phone
  • Make frequent stops. During long trips, rotate drivers.
  • Don’t follow another vehicle too closely.
  • Clean your headlights, taillights, signal lights and windows to help you see, especially at night.
  • Turn your headlights on as dusk approaches, or if you are using your windshield wipers due to inclement weather.


For most, the kitchen is the heart of the home, especially during the holidays. So, keeping fire safety top of mind during this joyous but hectic time is important, especially when there’s a lot of activity and people at your home.

Thanksgiving by the numbers

  • Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires, followed by Christmas Day and Christmas Eve.
  • Nearly four times as many home cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving as on a typical day.
  • Unattended cooking was by far the leading contributing factor in cooking fires and fire deaths.


Anyone spending time in the kitchen, whether prepping food or cooking, should avoid wearing loose clothing or dangling sleeves. Even if you need to step out for just a minute, you should never leave the stove unattended. Here are a few more cooking safety tips to make sure everyone enjoys a delightful meal:

  • Check food regularly.
  • Make sure to cook food thoroughly and avoid contamination – no one wants food poisoning on Thanksgiving
  • 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 – including the turkey fryer.
  • 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.

If you plan to use a turkey fryer – here are a few additional tips:

  • Stay Away from The House – Set up the turkey fryer more than 10 feet away from your home and keep children and pets away. Never leave it unattended.
  • Find Flat Ground – The oil must be even and steady at all times to ensure safety. Place the fryer on a flat, level surface and carefully gauge the amount of oil needed.
  • Use a Thawed and Dry Turkey – Make sure your Thanksgiving turkey is completely thawed and dry. Extra water will cause the oil to bubble furiously and spill over. If oil spills from the fryer onto the burner, it can cause a fire.
  • Monitor the Temp – Use caution when touching the turkey fryer. The lid and handle can become very hot and could cause burns. Also, be sure to keep track of the oil’s temperature as many fryers do not have their own thermostats.
  • Be Prepared – Have a fire extinguisher (multipurpose, dry-powder) ready at all times in the event that the oil ignites.

We wish you a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!

Mary McGrath

Personal Lines Department Manager

Mary McGrath: Personal Lines Department Manager