Thanksgiving safety tips

Published 8:21 am Tuesday, November 21, 2023

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Thanksgiving has arrived, which means individuals will be traveling to gather around the dinner table with their friends and families, and driving to local shopping centers to make the most of highly sought after Black Friday shopping deals. 

Local first responders shared some tips to help keep readers safe during this holiday season.

Fort Deposit Fire Department Battalion Chief Brandyn Sousa urged the public to be cautious as they drop their turkeys into the fryer.

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“Make sure you have a fire extinguisher close by when you are doing deep fried turkey,” Sousa said. “If your grease overflows and catches fire, do not use water to put it out. Carefully shut off the propane burner and use a fire extinguisher to put out the fire.”

Micky Norman, a Crenshaw County native and Greenville Fireman explained that in addition to being cautious of the grease when frying a turkey, individuals should be sure that their turkey has had time to thaw properly and is not still frozen before cooking.

“The ice that first touches the oil will begin to melt, then that water will rapidly heat and begin to boil, all near the oil’s surface, and then the steam will rapidly rise,” Norman said. “As the turkey gets lowered into the oil, most of the water in it is ice that will turn to water, not only at the surface, but beneath it. Water is not only denser than ice, it’s denser than oil too, so the liquid water will actually begin to sink in the oil. The water, being submerged in very hot oil, will begin to boil, converting to steam, while it’s still beneath the oil’s surface.”

Norman further explained how a frozen turkey being dropped into hot grease can quickly turn a beautiful thanksgiving dinner into a science experiment gone wrong.

“Because of how much more volume air takes up than water, this steam will rapidly expand – guaranteed to push oil over the sides of the fryer, and onto the flames or heating element below,” Norman said. “That’s when people get hurt. It all happens within a few seconds.”

After all the food has been eaten and individuals are preparing to head out for Black Friday shopping, law enforcement cautions motorists to be prepared for what awaits them on the roadways as well as at the shopping centers themselves.

Greenville Police Chief Justin Lovvorn said that it is always good to observe basic safety measures this time of year and to be vigilant about your belongings and your surroundings.

“Make sure your car is locked and all valuables are out of sight when shopping,” Lovvorn stressed. “Always be aware of your surroundings when in the store. Make sure no one can have access to your purse or other valuables that may be in your shopping cart, or that you may step away from momentarily. People will often stalk someone they feel is vulnerable in a store and wait for the perfect moment to take their valuables. They will even use a second person to distract someone for a moment, while the other one takes items out of their purse. If you notice someone acting in this way, notify the management of the store immediately or contact your local law-enforcement.”

Sergeant Prince Williams of the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Department added that roadway safety is of the utmost importance on holiday weekends and shared ways to ensure your family is as safe as possible while traveling.

“Don’t rush – it’s better to be late for dinner than to speed or drive recklessly,” Williams urged. “Buckle up, even if you’re in a rural area. Many people will be drinking alcohol to celebrate the holiday, but never drink and drive. Always have a designated driver. People tend to be traveling with family or kids and should always make sure children under 13 are in the back seat and kids in car seats are secure. Watch for deer because they are most active in November.”

Williams added that individuals should be sure to keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen in case of an emergency, check their smoke alarms and never leave food unattended while it is cooking.