How to stay safe during Thanksgiving break

Traffic is at a standstill after a crash near Loop 289 (Source: Texas Department of...
Traffic is at a standstill after a crash near Loop 289 (Source: Texas Department of Transportation)(Source: Texas Department of Transportation)
Published: Nov. 24, 2021 at 5:40 PM CST
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Whether you’re going on a road trip to visit family, or you’re hosting a Thanksgiving dinner, accidents happen when you least expect them (animal collisions, crashing with another vehicle, kitchen fire). It’s important to remain calm even if any of these scenarios play out.

Be aware that animals are most active at dusk and dawn. Just because the clock changes for us doesn’t mean animals will adapt to that change. November has been proven to be the most active month with a record 308,000 animal collisions in 2020. In Texas, animal collisions were up 19% from the previous year. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), Texas had the highest number of deaths from collisions with animals over a ten-year period. Even if you’re leaving early or running late, remember:

  • To pay attention to road signs. Yellow, diamond-shaped signs with an image of a deer indicate areas with high levels of deer activity or a large wildlife population.
  • Keep your eyes on the road. Ditching distractions is one of the easiest ways to make sure you’re ready for when a deer comes out of nowhere.
  • Be especially attentive in the early morning and evening hours. Many animals (especially deer) are most active from 5-8 AM and 5-8 PM, prime commuting times for many.
  • Use high beams when there’s no oncoming traffic. You can spot animals sooner. Sometimes the light reflecting off their eyes will reveal their location.
  • Slow down and watch for other deer to appear. Deer rarely travel alone, so if you see one, there are likely to be more nearby.
  • Resist the urge to swerve. The most serious crashes occur because of swerving. Instead, stay in your lane with both hands firmly on the wheel. Swerving away from animals can confuse them so they don’t know which way to run. It can also put you in the path of oncoming vehicles or cause you to crash into something.
  • If the crash is imminent take your foot off the brake. During hard braking, the front end of your vehicle is pulled downward which can cause the animal to travel up over the hood towards your windshield. Letting off the brake can protect drivers from windshield strikes because the animal is more likely to be pushed to one side of the vehicle or over the top of the vehicle.

If you crash, practice these steps:

  • Move your vehicle, find a safe place and turn on your flashers to notify other drivers of your position.
  • Call the police, let them know if anyone is hurt or if the animal is blocking the roadway.
  • Take photographs, document the damage done to your car, and any passengers help with the claims process.
  • Stay away from the animal, frightened or wounded animals can become very aggressive.
  • Don’t assume your car is safe to drive, look for leaking fluids, loose parts, tire damage, or other safety hazards – when in doubt, call a tow truck.

For most, the kitchen is the heart of the home, especially during the holidays. Families and loved ones gather to recreate family recipes, decorate cakes and cookies and everyone enjoys being part of the preparations. Unfortunately, on Thanksgiving, the chances of a cooking fire increase by 250%. In fact, the leading cause of kitchen fires is unattended cooking. In 2019, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 1,400 home cooking fires on Thanksgiving, the peak day for such fires.

As you start organizing the large family feast, the National Fire Protection Association recommends a few safety tips to be able to enjoy your quality time.

  • Stay in the kitchen when you are cooking on the stovetop so you can keep an eye on the food.
  • Keep children away from the stove. The stove will be hot and kids should stay 3 feet away.
  • Make sure kids stay away from hot food and liquids. The steam or splash from vegetables, gravy, or coffee could cause serious burns.
  • Keep the floor clear so you don’t trip over kids, toys, pocketbooks, or bags.
  • Keep knives out of the reach of children. Keep matches and utility lighters out of the reach of children — up high in a locked cabinet.
  • Be sure electric cords from an electric knife, coffee maker, plate warmer or mixer are not dangling off the counter within easy reach of a child.
  • Never leave children alone in a room with a lit candle.
  • Make sure your smoke alarms are working. Test them by pushing the test button. Smoke alarms should be interconnected; when one sounds, they all sound.
  • Keep a lid beside the pan when cooking. If a fire starts, slide the lid over the pan and turn off the burner. Never throw water on a grease fire.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher approved for cooking or grease fires nearby.

If you have a cooking fire,

  • Get out. When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the free.
  • Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number after you leave.
  • If you try to control the fire, make sure others are getting out and you have a clear way out.
  • For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.
  • Make sure you have a plan in the event of a fire. Have an evacuation plan, practice it, and designate a meeting place away from the home.

Thanksgiving is one of the most celebrated holidays of the year. It’s supposed to be a day spent with those you love and cherish. While this year, gatherings may be smaller, these risks still exist. Obviously, nobody wants this holiday to end in disaster. However, accidents can occur for different reasons and can lead to various outcomes. Knowing how to act in emergency situations is crucial.

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