For many of us, Thanksgiving means time with the family, big meals and, in many cases, travel.
The American Red Cross -- which knows about dealing with emergencies -- has some tips for a safe, healthy holiday.
Cooking is the leading cause of home fires, according to Patricia Waldinger, CEO of American Red Cross Southwestern Pennsylvania.
Holiday chefs should practice safety by following these recommendations:
• Do not wear loose clothing.
• Do not leave the kitchen when frying, grilling or broiling. If you must leave, turn off the stove.
• Check food regularly; use a timer as a reminder that the stove or oven is on.
• Enforce a "kid-free zone" -- keep young children at least 3 feet from the stove.
• Keep potholders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper and plastic bags, food packaging, towels and curtains away from appliances that generate heat.
• Install a smoke alarm near the kitchen and on each level of the home. Use the test button to check it each month, and replace batteries at least once a year.
Thanksgiving is one of the heaviest travel times of the year. For safe car travel:
• Make sure the vehicle is in good working order.
• Start the trip with a full tank of gas, check the tire air pressure and make sure the windshield washer fluid is full.
• Buckle up, slow down, don't drive impaired and have a designated driver.
• Avoid distractions such as cell phones.
• Make frequent stops; during long trips, rotate drivers.
• Turn on the headlights as dusk approaches or if using windshield wipers due to inclement weather.
• Keep an emergency preparedness kit in the vehicle that contains water, snacks, a flashlight, first-aid kit, extra cash and blankets.
For healthy trips by air, bus or train during the holiday season, which also is flu season:
• Handle your own belongings as much as possible.
• Bring your own pillow and blankets -- they can serve as a shield against the seat itself.
• Wash hands often with soap and water and carry hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial wipes -- and use them to wipe surfaces, such as armrests.
• If you have to cough or sneeze, do so into a tissue or sleeve.
• Avoid touching your face or eyes.
For more safety suggestions, visit RedCross.org.neigh_east