NORTH DAKOTA (KXNET) —With Thanksgiving travel to be the third busiest holiday, many Americans are ready to reunite with loved ones for the holiday.

According to a news release, Thanksgiving and the year-end holidays can be a time filled with many potential hazards.

“Since safety is at the heart of what we do at AAA, we want to share a few important reminders to keep everyone safe throughout the holiday season,” Meredith Mitts, spokesperson for AAA. “The holidays can quickly turn tragic if you’re not careful. Whether you’re in the kitchen or behind the wheel, AAA urges you to be patient, avoid distractions and pay close attention to your surroundings.”

Home Fires

Cooking is the leading cause of all residential building fires and injuries, and more home fires occur on Thanksgiving than on any other day of the year.

The number one cause of cooking fires is leaving the kitchen unattended, something that’s easily avoidable, but hard to remember when you’re cooking multiple things and hosting family.

There are key steps that can keep you, your home, and your loved ones safe.

  • Have someone on cooking duty at all times. If you have to leave, turn off the cooking equipment first.
  • Limit distractions by planning tv time, video chats, chores, and other activities outside of meal preparation time.
  • Smother grease fires with a metal lid or baking soda – never use water and turn off the heat first.
  • If a fire starts in the oven, turn off the heat and keep the oven door closed.
  • Hanging out in the kitchen leads to bumps, spills, and other injuries. To minimize accidents, put snacks, games, and toys in another room.
  • If you’re sleepy or have consumed too much alcohol, step away from cooking and have someone else take the lead.
  • Keep towels, oven mitts, paper products, and other flammable materials away from heat.
  • Have a fully functional fire extinguisher handy for emergencies.

Potential holiday fire hazards are not isolated to the kitchen.

Holiday lights, decorations, and Christmas trees can increase the fire risk if there’s no caution beforehand.

AAA recommends checking lights for frayed wires, broken bulbs, or loose connections, and making sure the tree isn’t placed near a fireplace or another heat source.

Making sure you have the correct home or renters insurance can provide peace of mind as you are entertaining. A good insurance agent will walk you through all your coverage options.

Theft

During this time of year, many holiday hazards also exist outside of the home.

Another common hazard that occurs throughout the holiday season is theft. And theft can come in many forms, including break-ins, stolen packages, vehicle thefts, and even vehicles being broken into.

If valuables are left in plain sight, it can be attractive to smash-and-grab burglars.

“When leaving your vehicle in a parking lot, make sure shopping bags and gifts are not visible through the car window,” added Mitts. “Putting your bags in the trunk or another place where they are not visible can help prevent vehicle break-ins.”

Traffic Crashes

Busy parking lots and roads are another hazard.

It’s important to be aware and focused while traveling through parking lots to help avoid crashes.

Traffic on roads is likely to increase as well, whether it’s running errands or on the highway.

AAA recommends limiting distractions when driving – especially in heavy traffic or congested areas, also check the weather forecasts to be aware of any wintery weather that may occur.

Here are additional tips to help avoid distractions:

  • Put it away
    • Place your mobile device out of sight to prevent temptation.
  • Know where you’re going
    • If using a navigation system, program the destination before driving.
  • Ask passengers for help
    • If riding with someone else, seek their help to navigate, make a call, or send a message.
  • Pullover
    • If you must call or text while on the road, pull off the road safely and stop.
  • Be a good passenger
    • Speak out if the driver is distracted.
  • Activate Do Not Disturb
    • Setting up this feature on your phone will prevent calls from coming in while driving.
  • Move over
    • When you see flashing lights on the side of the road, whether they’re coming from a disabled passenger vehicle or roadside responder, move over a lane to give space.