Thanksgiving is the kick-off to the holiday season - a time of joy and excitement for children. However, preparing for and enjoying a Thanksgiving feast can also pose dangers for little ones. Potential hazards such as kitchen appliances, candles, and carving knives can cause injury to curious children. You can ensure that this Thanksgiving remains accident-free with some simple proactive measures. Make your home a safe place for children by being aware these potential holiday dangers:

Festive Fires

  • Ovens and stoves – One way to detour your Thanksgiving dinner is a kitchen fire! Be aware of cooking times and set a timer so that your pumpkin pie does not set off the smoke alarm mid-dinner. Also, ensure that you remove pots from the stove after use and put burner covers over burners that may still be warm. Your little one may unintentionally leave a kitchen towel on a hot stove or start a fire trying to play chef with a mostly-empty pot on a hot burner.
  • Candles – Watch out for unattended candles near children, and keep lit candles away from curtains or other flammable materials. Consider using electric or battery-operated candles instead.

Kitchen Cuts and Burns

  • Heat – Hot plates, stove tops, and pans can cause burns, so make sure to keep hot items out of a child’s reach. If possible, use the rear burner and turn pots so that the handle is to the side. Prevent unintentional burns from unused, but still hot, burners by placing burner covers over them or implementing a system to identify hot burners such as placing a red dish towel on the oven door.
  • Knives – All knives and other sharp objects such as carving forks should be kept in a safe place when not in use. Store these objects in a cabinet that is out of the reach of small children, and never leave dangerous utensils unattended – even for a second.

Accidental Ingestion

  • Medication - Young children visiting your home may be curious about bottles of medication. Ensure safety by making sure all medication is stored in a secured cabinet and out of sight and reach of little hands.
  • Unlocked cabinets – If your home is not child-proofed, secure unlocked cabinets that may contain cleaning products or laundry supplies if your holiday visitors include children. If you are visiting another home with your little one, remind curious children to not explore the house and be sure to keep an extra watchful eye.
  • Alcohol – Children may pick up unattended drink containers and consume the leftover alcohol, which can lead to alcohol poisoning due to their small size. Always store alcohol out of reach and do not leave alcoholic drinks unattended.

Food Safety

  • Food Prep – When helping in the kitchen, many children find the urge to lick the cookie dough batter off the beater rather strong. Remind your little one which foods they can “sneak” and which foods need to be consumed at the dining table. Never allow children to eat meat that is not thoroughly cooked.
  • Leftovers - It is also important to familiarize yourself with safe food storage procedures to prevent any illness you may get from eating that cranberry sauce that got left behind on the table.
  • While you may enjoy teaching your little one to make their favorite holiday dishes, the easiest way to prevent most mishaps is to not allow young children to be in or around the kitchen while preparing your feast. Keep children entertained in a separate room until all the cooking is complete.

    Many of these potential accidents may require medical attention, which can be tricky during the holidays when many healthcare providers are not open, or only open for limited hours. Luckily, Patient First centers are open 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., every day – including all holidays. For added convenience, Patient First operates centers in Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, which means you may be able to see a familiar face during your urgent need. To find a center near you, please visit our location page.


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