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This Thanksgiving, make safety a main course!

william shatner turkey frying PSA

For the 2012 holiday season, StateFarm has remixed their William Shatner turkey fryer fire PSA to remind the public of the hazards of deep frying their yearly bird (via ABC).

Who doesn’t love Thanksgiving? It’s a distinctly North American holiday that celebrates the best of family, bounty, and the end of autumn. But while we’re savoring our turkey and playing family games of touch football, we should be conscious of the holiday’s hazards. Because peace of mind makes for the best tryptophan-induced post-feast nap.

Here are SmartSign’s top three safety tips for a wonderful and stress-free holiday:

1. Arrive alive.

Everyone knows the traffic is terrible around Thanksgiving, where cars are the dominant mode of travel for most Americans and the roads are bumper to bumper with frustrated drivers trying to reach their families. One recent anomaly was 2008, when the economic crash had just shook the nation and many families were reeling from job loss or tightening their belts. That year, people traveling for the holiday dropped 25% from the previous year, whereas this year it’s climbed back up to pre-recession travel numbers: the AAA estimates that over 43 million people will travel to get to their destinations for Turkey Day, with 37 million of those taking to the roads.

sign: yield to oncoming traffic

This message is safety-minded, but particularly apt to remind drivers to be patient during the worst traffic jams of the holiday season (via

Since many workers may still have to work a full day on Wednesday and many children may still have school, people choose to leave for their holiday destinations on Wednesday night, and night time driving compounds accident rates. Frustrated drivers in stop-and-go traffic can often be a little oblivious to obvious dangers and may drive more recklessly as a result. If you have to travel on the highest-traffic days (Wednesday and Sunday) the best thing you can do to keep your family safe is make sure your seat belt is on, take a deep breath, put on some soothing music, and get there safely.

2. The family that stays together …

… might get sick together. As wonderful as the holiday season is, it starts right at the worst time of year for cold and flu viruses, which are running rampant through schools and workplaces all through the autumn. So when everyone gets together for a communal meal, those germs have a lot of cozy opportunities for bonding, too! It’s doubly important during the holiday season to take precautions against spreading pesky colds. At the minimum, family staying in close quarters should avoid sharing too many forkfuls of sweet potato or mugs of hot cocoa, and should always wash their hands after coughing or sneezing.

handwashing sticker for kids

It’s especially important to remind the young ones that handwashing is an easy and fun way to stay healthy, so that they can stay up a little later with their cousins!

3. Watch out for that bird!

A fairly new culinary phenomenon has brought a slew of safety issues to the table: deep-fried Thanksgiving turkey. The delicious crispy skin and shortened cooking time is appealing to the home chef, but the hot oil and open flame is sometimes a disaster waiting to happen – literally. Fire departments across the country are responding to more than a thousand fryer fires every year, and apart from possible damage to life and property, a fryer fire is one way to turn your family gathering into a hot mess.

The precautions for deep-frying your bird are pretty straightforward, but they’re not open to interpretation: set up the fryer outside, on a flat stable surface, and away from any overhangs. The turkey needs to be thawed and completely dry before lowering it into the oil. Don’t use too much oil, either, because overflow of hot oil into the flame has pretty predictable outcomes. Take it from William Shatner, who had his own turkey fryer fire mishap and teamed up with State Farm to dramatize the incident in 2011. The video went viral and believe it or not, fryer fire incidents actually declined last year, so they’ve remixed an even more captivating version to remind you to be careful.

So while there might be other unavoidable drama on this great holiday, like playing Monopoly with your siblings and the bitter disputes that emerge, or needing to change into sweatpants after that third helping of stuffing, here’s hoping that you’ll make it to December with your car, your immune system, and your eyebrows intact. Happy Thanksgiving!

-K. Cavouras

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