Nov. 20—First responders are urging residents to be safe during the Thanksgiving holiday period by being responsible on the roads and at home.
If travelers haven't already hit the road, officials say there will be increased traffic this week over the Thanksgiving holiday and drivers should plan ahead to prevent accidents.
"Everybody is going to be in a hurry and roads are going to be busy," said Sgt. James Tonn with the St. Joseph Police Department. "Give yourself time to get to your destination. I always tell everyone I stop on a traffic stop for speeding, 'if you don't get there, it doesn't matter' so even if you're running late take your time."
Over the 2022 Thanksgiving holiday counting period in Missouri, nine people were killed and 482 injured in 1,355 traffic crashes.
Along with remaining vigilant while driving, officers are reminding drivers to make sure their car has been serviced, which can be a key factor in roadway accidents.
"Before you go on any long-distance trip, make sure your car is ready to go," Tonn said. "This time of year you're going to lose some tire pressure because it's cold so fill your tires up, make sure your brakes are functioning and do a walk around on your entire vehicle so you're being as safe as you can.
Road safety isn't the only concern throughout the holiday season, though. According to the National Fire Protection Association, every year there is a spike in residential fires starting on Thanksgiving.
"The holiday season is festive for all of our families and we want to make sure that no one gets injured or we don't lose any property during the holidays due to a fire," said Steve Henrichson, fire inspector with the St. Joseph Fire Department.
Henrichson said residents should not leave any food unattended while it is cooking, as well as keep food packaging and towels away from any open flames and make sure all smoke detectors are properly functioning.
Deep-frying turkeys has grown in popularity over the years, but officials say this should only be done with caution.
"Some of the common mistakes with the deep fryer are over-filling it with oil," he said. "Make sure that you check that level with water and the turkey first. Another thing to is to make sure you're doing it out in an open and well-ventilated space, no overhead balconies or structures nearby."
For those who are drinking with dinner, officials are stressing the importance of staying out of the driver's seat.
"It's always obvious, but we want to emphasize to our community, don't drink and drive," Tonn said. "Have a plan to get home or stay where you're at. We want you to get home safely. Drinking and driving can not only cost you, but someone else everything they have, and (we) don't want that to happen."
Jenna Wilson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.