Safety tips, reminders offered ahead of holidays
OBSERVER Staff Report
Thanksgiving’s arrival brings with it a host of yearly reminders and safety tips.
The Firemen’s Association of the State of New York said the arrival of cooler weather and more home cooking — especially for the holidays — historically leads to an increase in home cooking fires. Ahead of 2022’s peak home fire season, New York state has already experienced 118 home fire fatalities, compared to 85 at this time last year — an almost 50% increase.
“Our state’s volunteer firefighters hope that all New Yorkers have a safe and happy holiday,” FASNY President Edward Tase Jr. said. “When preparing your Thanksgiving feast and other upcoming holiday meals, remember to take important safety precautions, such as not leaving your cooking unattended. Unattended cooking is a leading cause of home fires that can easily be prevented.”
According to the National Fire Prevention Association, Thanksgiving is the leading day for home cooking fires, with 1,630 breaking out in 2018 — 250% above the daily average. The second highest day for home cooking fires was Christmas day, with 740 incidents.
One safety risk often taken on Thanksgiving is deep-frying turkeys. It is extremely dangerous to deep-fry a turkey, and can lead to serious burns and property damage. It is integral that the turkey is completely thawed before frying and that the cooking occurs outside and away from flammable objects.
FASNY and the National Fire Protection Agency provided the following tips:
¯ remain in the kitchen while cooking;
¯ if simmering, boiling, baking or roasting food, check it regularly and use a timer as a reminder that something is cooking;
¯ for homes with children, have the kids remain outside the kitchen area while food is being prepared. Pets should also be kept out of the kitchen while cooking.
¯ make sure smoke detectors are functioning by pressing the “test” button.
HOT TO TROT
AAA predicts nearly 55 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home this Thanksgiving — a 1.5% increase over 2021 and 98% of pre-pandemic volumes. This year is projected to be the third busiest for Thanksgiving travel since AAA started tracking in 2000.
“People are eager to get back to creating memories with their families and friends this Thanksgiving,” said Bevi Powell, senior vice president of AAA East Central. “The nearly pre-pandemic levels of travelers will result in heavy traffic congestion and busy airports. Motorists should strategically plan their journey, packing plenty of patience for the drive or flight.”
Most travelers, AAA said, are expected to travel by car. While Thanksgiving road trips have slightly risen 0.4% from 2021, car travel remains 2.5% below 2019 levels.
Air travel is up nearly 8% over 2021, with 4.5 million Americans flying to their Thanksgiving destinations this year. That’s an increase of more than 330,000 travelers and nearly 99% of the 2019 volume, AAA said.
‘ZERO TOLERANCE’ APPROACH
Gov. Kathy Hochul this week announced that the New York State Police, along with local law enforcement agencies, will participate in a special traffic safety initiative to “prevent unsafe driving behaviors.” The Thanksgiving weekend initiative runs through Monday, Nov. 28.
“Thanksgiving is traditionally one of the busiest travel times of the year, and our top priority is to make sure everyone gets to and from their destinations safely,” Hochul said. “There is zero tolerance for drunk and impaired drivers who risk the lives of everyone on our roadways. If your Thanksgiving celebrations include alcohol, plan for a safe ride home with a sober driver.”
In an effort to ease travel during the Thanksgiving weekend, temporary lane closures for road and bridge construction projects on New York State highways will be suspended through 6 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 28. Motorists are advised that some work may continue behind permanent concrete barriers for emergency repairs. The construction suspension aligns with New York State’s Driver’s First initiative, which prioritizes the convenience of motorists to minimize traffic congestion and travel delays due to road and bridge work.
“As motorists drive throughout the state to see their family and friends during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, we encourage them to make safe driving practices their top priority,” said Steven Nigrelli, New York State Police acting superintendent. “Impaired and aggressive driving, speeding, not using safety restraints and texting while driving all cause scores of senseless injuries and deaths. The State Police is committed to making our roadways safer and together, we can make sure everyone has a safe and happy Thanksgiving.”
The State Police will supplement regular patrols statewide with dedicated impaired driving patrols including Drug Recognition Experts, fixed sobriety checkpoints, underage drinking enforcement, speed enforcement, and the use of Concealed Identity Traffic Enforcement patrol vehicles to better locate drivers talking or texting on handheld devices. These unmarked vehicles blend in with everyday traffic but are unmistakable as emergency vehicles once the emergency lighting is activated.
According to a news release from Hochul’s office, elevated traffic volumes typically occur during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. It’s also a time when alcohol consumption is widespread.
During the 2021 Thanksgiving holiday period, a total of 12,975 tickets were issued statewide. Troopers arrested 183 drivers for DWI, issued 4,609 speeding tickets and 340 tickets for distracted driving.