20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


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Apaches dodge the fray

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Feasting with Thanksgiving safety


Story by Airman 1st Class Diana Cossaboom

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. - As holiday feasts and family traditions commence, it is important to remain vigilant to keep loved ones safe.

Danger during the holidays can come in many forms, including baking, frying and traveling.

Cooking fires occur more than twice as often on Thanksgiving than any other day, according to the American Red Cross.

"There are plenty of ways to start an unwanted cooking fire at your residence," said Staff Sgt. Jeffery Wood, 20th Fighter Wing Safety ground safety technician. "One of the most dangerous comes from the large propane turkey fryers which have gained popularity in recent years."

Some frying tips from the 20th FW Safety office include:

- Operate the fryer on stable ground.
- Never operate the fryer in or near any structure.
- Check the propane tank, supply lines and burner unit for gas leaks or other unserviceable components.
- Keep an appropriate fire-extinguisher on hand; water will only make matters worse when applied to a grease fire.
- Thaw the turkey before it is put into the fryer.
- Consult the manufacturer's user manual, as it will contain important safety information about your specific unit.

There are many dangers with fryers, however that is not the only location where safety is required.

"Stay in the kitchen when cooking on the stove top," said Cornelius Berry, 20th Civil Engineer Squadron fire inspector. "It is always a good idea to 'watch what you heat' and establish a three foot safety zone around the stove for small children."

While cooking a turkey or any other meat, make sure it is fully cooked before consuming. Using a food thermometer will guarantee that the food is cooked to a safe-to-eat temperature, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For safety while cooking, have a smoke alarm near the kitchen and make sure to test it each month, said Berry.

Families and friends who are traveling to visit loved ones have another type of danger to look out for.

"Thanksgiving is one of the peak periods for travel during the year," said Wood. "Those who hit the road can reduce driving risks by planning routes, avoiding distracted driving, maintain safe speeds, and never drink and drive."

Also, ensure the safety devices in your vehicle, such as seatbelts, are used and in working order, added Wood.

During the holidays, it is also important to watch out for animal companions as well.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals advises pet owners to ensure the health and safety of furry friends:

- Only feed a pet a little nibble of turkey and ensure it is boneless and well cooked.
- Sage and many other herbs contain essential oils that can cause gastrointestinal upset and central nervous system depression to pets if eaten in large quantities. Cats are especially sensitive to certain essential oils.
- When raw bread dough is ingested by animals, their body heat causes the dough to rise in their stomach. As it expands, the pet may experience vomiting, severe abdominal pain and bloating; this could become a life-threatening emergency.
- Don't let them eat cake. Ensure to keep their noses out of the batter, especially if it includes raw eggs in case of salmonella bacteria that may lead to food poisoning.
- Don't allow pets to overindulge, as they could wind up with an upset stomach, diarrhea or an inflammatory condition of the pancreas known as pancreatitis. It is better to keep pets on their regular diets during the holidays.

While the holidays are filled with fun and family, staying aware of possible hazards can ensure the fun lasts. From loved ones with two legs to four, their safety and health comes first while putting together a fabulous holiday meal.

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