By Larry Rickard, Campus Safety Chief

As you head out for the Thanksgiving break to enjoy time with family and friends, observe the following travel and cooking/food-related safety tips.

While you are away:
• Don’t post your Thanksgiving travel plans on Facebook, Twitter or other social media letting people know you will be out of town. But do let someone know your travel plans such as: your departure date and time from campus, where you plan to stop en route or overnight, estimated date and time of arrival at your destination.
• Keep your residence hall room secure while you are away. Do not leave valuables in your room over the holiday breaks.
• Have your mail, newspapers and deliveries stopped or picked up by a neighbor, friend or relative.
• Don’t leave a key hidden outside.
• Secure all windows.
• Use timers to operate lights.
• If you park your car in the driveway, have a friend move your car occasionally.

Stay safe on the road and in the air:
• Try to avoid the heaviest travel days—the Wednesday before and the Sunday after Thanksgiving—to avoid congestion.
• Keep an emergency road kit in the car in case of a breakdown or accident.
• Get your car road-ready and start your trip with a full tank of gas.
• Don’t be distracted. Drivers who text and drive are 23 times more likely to get into a crash.
• Don’t drink and drive.
• At airports, remember the 3-1-1 rule which limits the amount of liquid you can bring in your carry-on bag to 3.4 ounces.
• Pack smartly to help security lines move along quickly.

Keep your Thanksgiving meal safe from bacteria and you from getting sick:
• To defrost the turkey, place it on a tray or pan to catch any juices and keep it refrigerated until it’s ready to cook. A 20-pound frozen turkey can take up to five days to thaw out, so plan ahead.
• Cook the turkey to an internal temperate of 165 °F.
• Refrigerate leftovers within two hours after serving.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, Thanksgiving is the leading day for home-cooking fires—triple that of a normal day. To avoid fires:
• “Stand by your pan” when cooking: Never leave food, grease, or oils cooking on the stovetop unattended.
• Keep pot holders, oven mitts, food wrappers and other items that can catch fire away from the stove.
• Keep children away from hot stoves and pay particular attention when they are in the kitchen.
• Face pot handles toward the rear of the stove to keep them from being knocked over and scalding people nearby.
• Avoid long sleeves and loose clothing while cooking as it can easily catch fire.
• Keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen in case of emergency.
• Be cautious when using turkey fryers as they pose a number of safety concerns, including burns and fire hazards