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Holiday safety

With the holidays in full swing, Pearl River County residents will want to ensure their time with family and friends is fun and without the need for a trip to the emergency room.

Deep frying turkeys is a popular trend in the South. The practice can quickly turn result in a fire without the proper safety precautions.

Picayune Fire Marshall Pat Weaver said deep frying a turkey should always be performed outside away from any structures. If the turkey is not properly thawed or carefully put in the pot, the hot oil could boil over. Hot oil provides a lot of fuel for a fire, which means if a fire does start, it continue to grow.

Those preparing the holiday meal can stay safe by ensuring they do not heat the oil above 350 degrees, Weaver said. Turning the flame off before placing a turkey in the oil will prevent a fire if the oil overflows. Another tip is to dip the turkey in the pot before heating the oil to ensure there is not too much oil in the pot, which will avoid an overflow of hot oil, Weaver said. Children should be kept away from anything that is being deep fried.

A release from the Mississippi State Extension Service suggests using a probe thermometer ensure a turkey that is prepared by any method is fully cooked. Whole birds and poultry should be cooked to 165 degrees.

While turkey may be of interest to pets, turkey meat and bones are hard for pets to digest, according to PRC SPCA spokesperson Maria Diamond. Turkey bones are brittle and can break and cause a puncture in the pet’s digestive track, while turkey skin can lead to pancreatitis or stomach inflammation.

Giving a pet a small taste of boneless well-cooked turkey meat is fine, Diamond says.

Herbs, dough and sweets can also upset a pet’s stomach, Diamond said.

Seasonal decorations can also be a hazard for animals, Diamond said. Mistletoe and holly are both poisonous, and should be kept out of reach of animals. Water for a live tree should be covered to prevent the animal from drinking it, which can contain chemicals.

Christmas trees can also present a fire hazard, Weaver said, so live trees must be constantly watered. Trees must be recut after purchase, because when the trees are dry for too long the trunk will seal off with sap and prevent the tree from absorbing water. Trees should be kept away from flame sources, such as fire places and candles, Weaver said.