Is it safe to thaw a turkey in the sink? 11 tips to keep you and yours safe this Thanksgiving

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ST. GEORGE — Do you know how many days in advance of roasting you should buy a fresh turkey? Are you prepared to keep you and your family safe for the holiday? If not, don’t fret.

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With the holiday season comes family gatherings, travel, time with friends and special dinners. As such, a press release issued by the Southern Nevada Health District provides tips to keep you and your family safe this year. For additional information about how to celebrate safely, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Holiday Celebrations page.

COVID-19 Safety

Vaccination before vacation can help protect everyone this holiday, the health district says, adding that getting vaccinated is a key tool to protect against infection or serious illness with COVID-19. You can also receive a flu vaccination at the same time as the COVID-19 vaccine.

If holiday plans include travel, visit the CDC’s travel page for recommendations. 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 you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have an exposure to COVID-19, it is recommended that you get tested and do not travel, host or attend any gatherings.

Are you hosting Thanksgiving?

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

There are several steps to prepare the bird safely!


  • 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 allowed 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 leakproof. 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.


  • Turkey must reach a minimum 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).


  • 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.

Find more information online.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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