Health District shares safety tips for holiday gatherings; food preparation and storage

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LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The Southern Nevada Health District (SNHD) is sharing tips that can keep you and your family safe this year.

COVID-19 SAFETY

Travel, family gatherings, time with friends, and special dinners are what make the holidays the holidays, but the SNHD wants to remind people that vaccination before these events can help protect everyone.

Getting vaccinated is a key tool to protect against infection or serious illness with COVID-19, according to SNHD.

You can receive a flu vaccination at the same time as the COVID-19 vaccine and both are available at Health District clinics, pharmacies, and health care provider offices throughout Southern Nevada.

For a COVID vaccine clinic, visit www.SNHD.info/covid-vaccine.

HOLIDAY TRAVEL PLANS?

The CDC recommends delaying travel until you are fully vaccinated. A mask mandate remains in effect for travel on all public transportation. This includes planes, trains, and buses.

If holiday plans include travel, visit the CDC’s Travel page for recommendations.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have exposure to COVID-19, it is recommended that you get tested and do not travel, host, or attend any gatherings.

HOSTING FOR THANKSGIVING?

COVID-19 protections and food safety are key to a healthy celebration. Crowded indoor spaces pose a greater risk to anyone who is unvaccinated. Consider having dinner outside, if weather permits, SNHD says.

SNHD says outdoor activities are safer especially if you have a mix of vaccinated and unvaccinated guests. In addition, NHD says masks should be worn indoors by anyone who is not fully vaccinated.

FOOD PREPARATION AND STORAGE

There are several steps to prepare the bird safely!

Storing a fresh turkey:

  • If you buy a fresh turkey, purchase it no more than two days in advance.
  • A frozen turkey should be defrosted in the refrigerator and allow 24 hours to defrost for every four to five pounds. Never defrost a turkey on the kitchen counter.
  • Keep the turkey in the original bag and make sure it is leak proof. Keep it in a container to prevent raw juices from contaminating other food in the fridge.
  • If you thaw the turkey in a sink, it should be in a leak-proof bag. Put the wrapped turkey in cold tap water and change the water every 30 minutes until thawed. Cook it immediately.
  • If you thaw the turkey in the microwave, follow the manufacturer’s instructions. A turkey thawed in the microwave must be cooked immediately after thawing.

FoodSafety.gov has information from thawing to leftovers on its Preparing Your Holiday Turkey Safely page.

Cooking a turkey:

  • Turkey must reach a minimal internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit or above to ensure safety.
  • Use a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the turkey (the breast) to ensure the bird has reached the correct internal temperature (a stuffed turkey would require longer cooking times).

Eating leftovers:

  • Cut the leftovers into small pieces or slice them before storing them.
  • Place leftovers in the refrigerator in shallow containers.
  • Leftover turkey and stuffing should be used within four days (right through the long weekend) and reheated to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit or above. If frozen, leftovers can be enjoyed past the holiday. 
  • Discard any turkey, stuffing or gravy left out at room temperature longer than two hours or one hour if the temperature is above 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

For additional information about how to celebrate safely, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Holiday Celebrations page.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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