Wishing You A Safe, Healthy, and Happy Thanksgiving

The first nationally recognized Thanksgiving Day was Thursday, November 26, 1863, as proclaimed by President Abraham Lincoln. The presidents following Lincoln continued the tradition of proclaiming a national day of Thanksgiving, usually (but not always) choosing the last Thursday in November as the day of recognition. In 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued a proclamation formally designating the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day.  (See this article from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum for details on the early controversy surrounding the date of Thanksgiving.)

The traditional Thanksgiving feast is based largely on a meal shared in 1621 by the Plymouth colonists and the Wampanoag people. The Wampanoag brought venison to add to the fish, vegetables, and stew provided by the colonists. The festivities included races, feasting, and beer --- closely echoing modern celebrations, with the notable exceptions of flat-screen TVs and football games.

True to its roots, Thanksgiving continues to be a time to gather together (leading to its reputation as the busiest travel season of the year), give thanks, and enjoy a traditional feast. As Thanksgiving approaches, we here at ADPH would like to share the following tips to help you and yours enjoy a happy, healthy holiday.

Food Safety

For the large majority of Americans, turkey is the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving meal. Raw turkey contains a number of germs that can make people sick and ruin the holiday --- the following tips from the CDC can help prevent food poisoning:

  • Store raw turkey in a freezer until you're ready to thaw it and cook it.
  • Please don't set your turkey out on the counter to thaw it out. Turkeys should either thaw in the refrigerator (24 hours per 4-5 pounds), in cold water (30 minutes per pound, changing the water every 30 minutes), or in the microwave.
  • Use a separate cutting board to prepare the turkey, and wash your hands, the board and any utensils used immediately after.
  • When roasting your turkey in the oven, set the oven temperature to at least 325°F and cook until the internal temperature is 165°F.

For tips on safely cooking turkeys using a smoker, a fryer, or other methods, visit the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service

We all know (whether we'll admit it or not) the best part about the Thanksgiving meal is the leftovers. Here are some tips to make sure your leftovers are safe and delicious for your post-Thanksgiving feast:

  • Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours of cooking. Be sure to cut larger pieces of meat into smaller pieces so they cool quickly.
  • Reheat leftovers to at least 165°F.
  • Eat refrigerated leftovers within 3-4 days, or freeze them to store them longer.

For more information on Thanksgiving food safety, visit the CDC

Travel Safety

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) views "Thanksgiving Eve" as the start of the holiday period, as it is the traditional day when people begin traveling to family get-togethers. With the expected increases in traffic each year, it's important to remember these two critical rules of highway safety:

  • Buckle Up: During the 2021 Thanksgiving holiday weekend, more than 360 people died in traffic accidents according to the NHTSA. Of those who died during nighttime crashes, 52 percent were not wearing a seat belt. Of those who died during daytime crashes, 46 percent were not wearing a seat belt.
  • Don't Drive Impaired: Statistics from the NHTSA show that, from 2017-2021, 137 drivers involved in fatal crashes on Thanksgiving Eve were drunk. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) --- the psychoactive component of marijuana -- slows reaction time and impairs your ability to drive safely.

Family Health History Day

While you are visiting family members you may not see very often, it's a good time to ask them about your family health history. Follow the "ask it, write it, share it, use it" plan to gather and act on information that could help you improve, prolong, or even save your life. See our blog post on Family Health History Day to learn more.

From all of us at ADPH to all of you --- Happy Thanksgiving!