With Thanksgiving being the nation’s peak day for home cooking fires, Rutherford County Fire Rescue officials want to make sure the community prepares for a safe and enjoyable holiday.

Lieutenant/Assistant Fire Marshal Joshua Sanders urges citizens to follow a few general rules of safety when preparing the Thanksgiving feast:

  • Stay in the kitchen when you are cooking on the stovetop so you can keep an eye on the food.
  • Stay in the home when cooking your turkey and check on it frequently.
  • Keep children at least three feet away from the stove and other hot surfaces.
  • Be sure that electric cords from an electric knife, coffee makers, plate warmer or mixer are not dangling off of the counter within a child’s reach.
  • Keep matches and utility lighters out of reach of children—up high in a locked cabinet.
  • Never leave children alone in a room with a lit candle.

Sanders, with the assistance from RCTV, filmed an instructional video on the safe way to deep fry a turkey, highlighting the consequences of doing things the WRONG way. These safety tips can help prevent a turkey frying disaster:

  • Do not overfill your fryer. An overfilled pot will cause oil to spill over when the turkey is placed inside.
  • Keep the fryer on a non-combustible, flat surface.
  • Have a three-foot safety zone around the fryer for kids and pets to protect against burn injuries.
  • Thaw the turkey completely before frying.
  • Check the temperature of your fryer frequently so the oil doesn’t overheat.
  • Use the manufacturer’s guidelines for using the fryer.
  • The pot, lid, and handles will be dangerously hot and could cause burn injuries. Long cooking gloves that protect hands and arms should be used.

Lastly, Sanders says that all homes should be equipped with working smoke alarms. “Working smoke alarms can cut your risk of fire death in half,” he comments. Rutherford County Fire & Rescue can come inspect and/or install free alarms for citizens in the county. Contact the office at 615-867-4626 Monday-Friday 8:00 am-4:30 pm to schedule an installation.

Safer Gatherings During COVID-19

County officials acknowledge that celebrations may look very different this year. “We know that now more than ever, family needs to be together, but want to reduce the community’s risk of spreading or getting COVID-19 during the holiday festivities,” said Mayor Bill Ketron. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have released several recommendations that can be put into place with minimal impact to your celebration.”

The CDC recommends wearing a mask, staying at least six feet away from others who do not live with you, washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol.

If you are attending a gathering, it is recommended that you bring your own food, drinks, plates, cups, and utensils, wear your mask unless eating or drinking, avoid going on and out of food preparation areas, and using single-use options like condiment packets.

If hosting a gathering in your home, it is recommended that you host a small outdoor meal with family and friends in your community, limiting the number of guests. The CDC also recommends talking with guests beforehand about your expectations for protective health measures during the gathering. If celebrating indoors, the CDC recommends opening the windows, limiting the number of people in food preparation areas, having people bring their own food and drink, and/or having single use options like plastic utensils.

The CDC warns that travel increases your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19 and suggests staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others. If you do travel, it is recommended that you:

  • Check travel restrictions before you go.
  • Get your flu shot before you travel.
  • Always wear a mask in public settings and on public transportation.
  • Stay at least 6 feet apart from anyone who is not in your household.
  • Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your mask, eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Bring extra supplies, such as masks and hand sanitizer.

Other recommendations and alternative activities can be found by visiting cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/holidays/thanksgiving.

“Rutherford County wishes our citizens and visitors a very safe and Happy Thanksgiving, and we hope that you will follow the recommended practices above to continue the efforts to slow the spread of this virus in our community,” Ketron added.