The Most Common Thanksgiving Safety Hazards and How to Protect Your Family

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Need to Know from SafeWise
  • Thanksgiving is the number one day for cooking fires.
  • 830 people were killed in drinking-related crashes over Thanksgiving weekend between 2017 and 2021.
  • The day after Thanksgiving is one of the busiest days of the year at pet ERs.

Thanksgiving is next week, and spending time with loved ones and indulging in delicious feasts is on most people's minds. But—amidst the excitement and festivities—it's crucial to prioritize safety. We've pulled together some of the most essential Thanksgiving safety tips to ensure your holiday is enjoyable and accident-free.

From the kitchen to the road (and even your furry family members), we've got you covered with expert advice to make this Thanksgiving a memorable and safe one.

Multiracial group of friends gathering at dining table for Thanksgiving dinner. Focus is on man carving roast turkey.

Image: Drazen Zigic, iStock

Kitchen safety tips for Thanksgiving

  • Prevent cooking fires: Kitchen fires are the number one cause of house fires, and Thanksgiving is the number one day for cooking fires. Make sure all of your smoke alarms are working properly, and limit action in the kitchen (if you can!). Distraction can lead to burning food on the stove, which can lead to a fire. Stay focused, and save the wine for the dinner table.
  • Watch out for cooking injuries: Burns and cuts are common Thanksgiving injuries. Have all the tools you need to stay safe in the kitchen: hot pads and mitts, a fire extinguisher, properly sharpened knives (dull knives are more risky than sharp ones), and appropriate clothing. Wear long sleeves to protect from splattering oil, keep knives and other sharp objects out of reach of children, and always slice away from your fingers and palm.
  • Practice food safety: No one wants to give their Thanksgiving guests food poisoning. Thaw your turkey in the fridge in its original packaging and use dedicated kitchen tools for handling and preparing the turkey (to avoid cross-contamination). Wash all cutting boards, knives, and other utensils that touched the raw turkey in hot, soapy water—and wash your hands before, during, and after meal prep. Keep produce and other food items separate from the turkey during cooking and refrigerate leftovers promptly (within 2 hours at most!).
Happy family sitting in car with their child while dad driving, they travelling during winter holidays

Image: AnnaStills, iStock

Thanksgiving travel safety tips

  • Watch the weather: Pay attention to the forecast at home, at your destination, and everywhere in between. Be prepared to take extra time if storms or hazardous conditions (like icy roads) are in the forecast, and study up on how to handle winter driving conditions.
  • Prep your car for winter driving: To avoid hazards like blown tires, schedule a comprehensive inspection and address any required maintenance, with particular attention to your tires. Also, create (or buy!) a car emergency kit with essentials like a safety cone, carjack, flashlight, jumper cables, first aid supplies, and a warm blanket for chilly breakdowns.
  • Don't drink and drive: Not everyone travels across the state or country for Thanksgiving. But even if it's just over the river and through the woods, make sure you have a designated driver or a plan B to call a ride or stay the night if you do more than toast the chef at dinner. Between 2017 and 2021, 830 people were killed in drinking-related crashes over the Thanksgiving holiday—play it safe and don't take any chances.
The cat on a table with chicken with tangerines and the glasses of champagne

Image: Umi Di, iStock

Pet safety tips for Thanksgiving

  • Keep pets away from the feast: My pup begs daily (to no avail!), but Thanksgiving provides even more opportunities for him to look adorable while eyeing all the food. Turkey bones, onions, garlic, grapes, raisins, and chocolate are just some of the hazards in the holiday feast that can be fatal to dogs. And even if you want to share the pumpkin pie (that's what they get for an upset tummy, right?), don't. The added sweets and cream can mess up their system, and no one wants intestinal troubles on the holiday.
  • Give pets a safe place: Whether you're hosting the feast or taking your four-legged family members to Grandma's, set up a place where they can be safe and comfortable. Depending on your setup and guest list, a pet gate can help keep pets from being underfoot in the kitchen and protect them from children who may not be used to having pets around.
  • Keep an eye on pets—even if you're away: Use a pet camera like Furbo or Petcube to check in on your fur babies (and even toss them some treats!). You can also use a pet tracker like Fi to see if they're pacing anxiously or snoozing peacefully while you're away.
Rebecca Edwards
Written by
Rebecca Edwards
Rebecca is the lead safety reporter and in-house expert for She has been a journalist and blogger for over 25 years, with a focus on home and community safety for the past decade. Rebecca spends dozens of hours every month poring over crime and safety reports and spotting trends. Her expertise is sought after by publications, broadcast journalists, non-profit organizations, podcasts, and more. You can find her expert advice and analysis in places like NPR, TechCrunch, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Miami Herald, HGTV, MSN, Reader's Digest, Real Simple, and an ever-growing library of podcast, radio and TV clips in the US and abroad.

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