The last thing anyone wants during the holiday season is to end up having to use emergency services.

Foodborne illness is something nearly 48 million people struggle with each year, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH). According to the Red Cross, Thanksgiving is a peak day for home cooking fires.

Basic safety practices are very important while preparing holiday foods and then storing them after the meal.

Keeping hands and work area clean and clutter free help with both, the spread of bacteria and chance of things catching on fire.

OSDH recommends washing hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds before, during and after handling food. Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils and counter tops with hot soapy water after preparing each food item and before you go on to the next food. Also, use separate cutting boards, and keep raw meats and their juices away from fruits and vegetables.

Red Cross reminds cooks to clean and clear around the stove before turning on the heat, including towels, bags, boxes, paper and curtains. Also avoid wearing loose clothing or dangling sleeves while cooking.

It’s also important to keep children and pets at least three feet away from the stove. Pot handles should be turned back toward the stove so they aren’t bumped or pulled over, Red Cross.

Thanksgiving meat and egg dishes should be checked with a food thermometer to ensure food is thoroughly cooked. After the meal, promptly refrigerate the leftovers to prevent harmful germs from multiplying quickly and discard any food that has been left out more than two hours, according to OSDH.

The Red Cross also reminds, keep an eye on what you fry. If the heat gets too high, it can start a fire. Never leave cooking food unattended and make sure to use a timer to remind yourself when the oven is on.

If something starts to smoke or grease begins to boil, turn the burner off and carefully remove the pan from the burner. The Red Cross suggest keeping a cookie sheet or pan lid close by to cover the pan if it does catch fire, then leave it covered until the pan is completely cooled.

Anyone who has been sick with diarrhea or vomiting should not prepare food for at least 24 hours after symptoms have stopped, according to OSDH.

Oklahoma State University website offers turkey safety tips to help ensure a safe holiday meal at

More information can also be found with OSDH at and Red Cross at

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