How to Celebrate Thanksgiving Safely During COVID-19

Thanksgiving is going to look a little different this year for many families. According to CBS News, “health experts have warned that gatherings for the upcoming holidays could worsen the surge in COVID-19 cases.” While it may be difficult to stay apart from family this Thanksgiving, everyone must understand the risks associated with getting together.


Celebrating Thanksgiving At A Distance Will Help Decrease The COVID-19 Surge

We know that parents and caregivers are exhausted from the new normal and that tiredness can lead to letting your guard down. Still, it’s essential to follow these safety tips to ensure a safe, healthy, and secure Thanksgiving. The CDC has put out guidance for families to follow for keeping Thanksgiving safe:

  • Shop for food in advance: If you’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner, do not wait until the last minute to head to the supermarket. Avoid crowds by ordering food by a delivery service or by heading to the grocery store well in advance.

  • Avoid traveling: Traveling carries the risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19. If you have to travel, make it a short driving trip that only includes members of your immediate family. Fill up your gas tank before you go, pack food, drinks, masks, and plenty of hand sanitizer, and avoid using public restrooms and eateries, if possible.

  • Host a virtual Thanksgiving dinner: While it isn’t the same as in-person festivities, celebrating virtually is the safest way to avoid catching and spreading COVID-19.

  • Don’t forget about isolated loved ones: If a member of your family or community is high-risk and will be celebrating Thanksgiving alone this year, prepare a meal for her beforehand and safely deliver the food package at the recipient’s doorstep.

  • Spend extra time with your family: The best way to celebrate Thanksgiving is by only having dinner with members of your immediate family. Use this special time to watch your favorite movies, play games as a family, and help each other cook.

  • Stay home on Black Friday: Although it may be tempting to shop those great deals on Black Friday, this year, you should play it safe, avoid crowds, and shop online instead.

  • Avoid consuming alcoholic beverages: This can lead to letting your guard down and making poor choices, which could ultimately lead to spreading COVID-19.

Our health experts say that outdoor dining is always preferable to indoor dining. If weather permits, host a small outdoor gathering with safety precautions, such as mask-wearing, hand sanitizing, and social distancing. If you’re hosting Thanksgiving, avoid family-style and buffet dinners and instead opt for pre-made platters. Good Housekeeping says, “This is the year that you should embrace single-use utensils and disposable dishware.”


Don’t Forget About Household Safety During Thanksgiving

It’s crucial to protect your family from COVID-19 and from household dangers that occur during Thanksgiving break. It may be more challenging for parents to keep a check on small children without additional family members around to watch them, so this year, more than ever, parents should practice these safety tips to keep children safe:

  • Keep children away from the kitchen or at a safe distance: Hot liquids, steam, pot handles, sharp knives, and hot ovens all pose a danger to children. If you don’t have anyone available to watch young children, consider setting up a baby gate to keep children at least three feet away from dangerous appliances.

  • Store medication, cleaning supplies, chemicals, and vitamins up high and out of children’s reach: With parents more occupied during the holidays, children tend to get adventurous and try new things. Pick up any bags and purses off the floor, and keep poisonous items locked away. Store the number for Poison Control in your phone in case of accidental ingestion: 1-800-222-1222.

  • Food safety: With everything going on, the last thing you want to do is undercook your Thanksgiving meal! Use a thermometer to ensure you cook your turkey at a minimum internal temperature of at least 165℉.

  • Fire safety: According to the National Fire Protection Association, more than three times as many home cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving Day than on a typical day of the year. Be sure to turn off the oven and stovetop after cooking, avoid distractions that force you to leave the kitchen, keep oven mitts away from open flames, and always store a fire extinguisher nearby.

  • It’s essential to test and replace all smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors before Thanksgiving day.

  • Choose LED candles over traditional flames, and make sure all fireplaces have adequate protective barriers. With more children unattended on Thanksgiving this year, it will increase the chance of an accidental house fire.

  • Keep a healthy routine: COVID-19 has caused behavioral issues and regressions in many children. The Yale School of Medicine says many parents “describe tantrums, refusal to do schoolwork, toileting accidents, baby talk, intense and unpredictable emotions, hyperactivity, and sleep difficulties.” Parents need to maintain a structured routine with children during the Thanksgiving break -- keep the same bedtimes and don’t let children overeat or watch startling television programs.

  • Firearms safety: U.S. gun sales have soared to record highs in 2020, with the National Shooting Sports Foundation reporting that there have been 17.2 million background checks completed this year. With the influx of new gun owners, parents must store their firearms locked away, unloaded, hidden, and out of the reach of children.

Even though this Thanksgiving may be difficult for many, Dr. Laura Saunders, a psychologist from the Institute of Living, says that families can still look on the bright side this holiday season. Saunders says families can “go out and toss a football or take a walk through the neighborhood. The fresh air and post-indulgence movement will feel good.” She also suggests starting new traditions by “writing notes of thanks for a time capsule to open next Thanksgiving.”


Whatever your Thanksgiving looks like this year, we wish you a safe and healthy holiday. The Institute for Childhood Preparedness offers active shooter preparedness and emergency preparedness training with our new hybrid model, online training courses followed by in-person practical training applications. To find out more about how to bring a hybrid training program to your child care program, school, or community, schedule training with us today.


Pre-Order Preschool Preparedness for an Emergency today, the second book in the Preparing for the Unexpected Series from our Executive Director, Andrew Roszak.


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