Thanksgiving is a holiday that brings friends and family together to share a good meal, conversation and laughter. But Thanksgiving also comes with several health hazards, including an increased chance of fires and food poisoning.

Take a few minutes to review these Thanksgiving Day safety tips, and enjoy the holiday without worry.

Don't Invite Bacteria to Dinner:
• Using soap and warm water, wash hands for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food, using the bathroom or touching pets.
• Keep the kitchen off-limits to young children and adults that are not helping with food preparations to lessen the possibility of kitchen mishaps.
• Wash cutting boards, counters and utensils often. Use two cutting boards, one for washed produce and one for raw meat and seafood.
• Separate raw foods from cooked foods, to avoid cross-contamination. Wash fresh vegetables and fruits in drinkable running water.
• Start holiday cooking with a clean stove and oven.
• Cook foods to at least the internal temperature that kills harmful bacteria. For example, whole poultry should be at least 85? C (185? F).
• Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.
• Cook on the back burners when possible and turn pot handles in so they don't extend over the edge of the stove.
• Never leave cooking unattended. If people must leave the kitchen while cooking, turn off the stove or have someone else watch what is being cooked.

Keep these general safety tips in mind whenever you cook up a feast:
• Make sure smoke alarms are working. Test them by pushing the test button.
• Don't leave the kitchen while frying and grilling. If deep frying a turkey, keep the fryer outside, away from walls, fences and other structures. Make sure all stoves, ovens and ranges have been turned off when leaving the kitchen.
• Keep pot holders and food wrappers three feet away from the stove or other hot surfaces. Kids should stay at least three feet away also. Make sure the handles of pots and pans are facing inward.
• Keep the floor clear so people don't trip over kids, toys, pocketbooks or bags.
• Avoid loose clothes, especially those with long sleeves, while cooking.
• Keep knives out of the reach of children.
• Set timers to keep track of turkeys and other food items that require extended cooking times
• Be sure electric cords from an electric knife, coffee maker, plate warmer or mixer are not dangling off the counter within easy reach of a child.
• After guests leave, walk around the home making sure that all candles and smoking materials are extinguished.

Just because we get to take a break from dieting on Thanksgiving, doesn't mean we can throw caution to the autumn winds. Remember these suggestions and have a happy and safe holiday.