Originally created 11/25/03

Eat turkey, have fun without hospital trip



We don't mean to sound like Chicken Little, but there are lots of ways you can get hurt during the holidays. Common sense is always the best guide to staying safe, but there are some areas that demand extra attention so you don't end up roasting yourself on an open fire.

A BUBBLING POT O' DANGER

Martha Stewart likes them. Emeril Lagasse is a fan. Deep-fried turkeys have long been a favorite Southern Thanksgiving dish, and the rest of the country is finally catching on. The process of frying a turkey in up to five gallons of oil is much more dangerous than making a pot of spaghetti, though. The Underwriterss Laboratories Inc., whose "UL" symbol can be found on light bulbs, hasn't certified a single turkey fryer as safe.

Lt. Richard Smith, an Augusta fire inspector, said the department's biggest concern is apartment dwellers who cook with gas grills on their decks or porches. That doesn't diminish the danger of turkey fryers, though.

"Most of people who use turkey fryers are already accustomed to gas grills and what to do with them," Lt. Smith said. "The more popular this becomes, the more a chances there are for problems. You'l get people who won't read the directions on the box."

This is what the Underwriterss Laboratories suggests:

  • Turkey fryers should always be used outdoors a safe distance from buildings and any other flammable material.
  • Never use a fryer on a wooden deck or in a garage.
  • Make sure the fryer is on a flat surface to reduce the risk of accidental tipping.
  • Never leave the fryer unattended. Most units do not have thermostat controls. If you don't watch the fryer carefully, the oil will continue to heat until it catches fire.
  • Never let children or pets near the fryer. Even after cooking, use caution. The oil can remain dangerously hot for hours.
  • Make sure the turkey is completely thawed and be careful with marinades. Oil and water don't mix, and water causes oil to spill over, causing a fire or even an explosion hazard.
  • Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher nearby. Never use water to extinguish a grease fire. Remember to use your best judgment when attempting to fight a fire. If the fire increases, call 911.
  • TOSS ME A BUNDLE OF PAIN

    It's late Thursday afternoon. The Thanksgiving feast has been consumed, leftovers have been wrapped up and dishes have been cleared. The weather is nice, and the whole clan is present, so why not throw together a game of touch football?

    Plenty of people will, and if they don't stretch beforehand, they'll feel the game for days to come.

    Craig Bryan, a strength coach and exercise coordinator at Health Central in Augusta, estimates that dozens of people visit the gym after the holidays with injuries to their knees, back and shoulders and ankles.

    "We see a lot of people around Christmas, because they're all getting new toys, some of which they get hurt with," he said.

    Don't want to feel like you've been hit with a sledgehammer later on? Take these Health Central suggestions to heart:

  • Listen to your body. In particular, men have a tendency toignore fatigue when it sets in.
  • Know your limits. If you want to throw the football with your teenagers, remember that you're going to run out of energy before they do.
  • Start slowly. Because you're not playing at Sanford Stadium, you might be tempted to pass on the pre-game stretching. If nothing else, start with some easy tosses with the football before throwing any long bombs.
  • Wait about 60 to 90 minutes after eating before you do any exercising. Remember how Mom told you not to jump into the pool right after lunch? The same thing applies here. Blood rushing to your stomach plus football equals cramps.
  • STRING 'EM UP!

    Lt. Smith has seen some pretty stupid behavior when it comes to holiday lights.

    From using staple guns and duct tape to string up lights to hanging indoor lights outside, there's no shortage of folks who manage to turn decorative lights into miniature torches.

    "I had to investigate a fire last year where everything you could do wrong, they did wrong," he said. "They put everything on one circuit and one plug, and they overloaded the circuit; they burned out the whole line. It just traveled the wire and ignited the carport, causing extensive damage."

    Here are some safety tips from Augusta-Richmond County Fire-Rescue:

  • Put lights on the outside of the house with plastic-covered metal hooks, not staples.
  • Never use a product in ways not indicated by its instructions. They were placed there for a reason.
  • Point outdoor lights down to avoid moisture build-up.
  • Never connect more than three strands of lights together or plug more than three of them into the same electrical outlet.
  • Never use indoor extension cords outside; use only heavy-duty cords.
  • Use only lights that carry the "UL" symbol on them. The Underwriters Laboratories symbol means the company has tested and approved the lights.
  • Check all electrical cords. If they're warm or hot, that means they're carrying too much electricity.
  • Keep the Grinch at bay You worked hard this year saving up for that perfect present, so don't expose yourself to thieves.

    Lt. Tony Walden, of the Richmond County Sheriff's Office, said theft reports usually increase during the holiday season because the opportunities to steal are much more plentiful. The following tips are from the sheriff's office and the Federal Trade Commission:

  • When you're shopping, do not leave things out in the open in public places; lock them up.
  • Store packages in the trunk of your car, not on the seats.
  • If the store you're shopping at offers rides to your car, take advantage of the service.
  • If you suspect a business might have broken the law, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. You can call the FTC toll-free at (877) 382-4357 or file a complaint at www.ftc.gov.
  • Reach Patrick Verel at (706) 823-3332 or patrick.verel@augustachronicle.com.