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End the Streak

By Johanna Hicks

Johanna Hicks, B.S., M.Ed., Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, Family & Community Health Agent, Hopkins County, P.O. Box 518, 1200-B West Houston St., Sulphur Springs, TX 75483; 903-885-3443; [email protected]

It has been 19 years since Texas could claim a day where there were no fatalities on our roads. Every day in Texas nearly 10 people are killed in traffic crashes. According to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), the leading causes of these deadly crashes continue to be failure to stay in one lane, alcohol and speed. TxDOT is promoting the “End the Streak” campaign to help end motor vehicle fatalities in Texas.

What if we all drove like the driver we would want in front of us, beside us and behind us? What if, for one day, everyone took responsibility for themselves and their friends and there were no drunk drivers on our roads? What if there was not one person driving somewhere to drink without a plan for a sober ride home — and no underage drunk drivers were to be found anywhere? Ending this streak of needless tragedy on Texas roadways is a shared responsibility.

What if there were no distracted drivers on the road? This includes teens riding with other teens, which is the main source of their distractions and against the law according to the Graduated Driver License Law. What if no youth or adult was driving while using a cell phone and totally concentrating on their driving?

Driving within the speed limit, including slowing down for construction and emergency vehicles, and driving more slowly and cautiously when weather conditions are bad should be added to the list of what ifs. What if we all took time to put on our seat belts and make sure that all of our passengers were also buckled up, and all children were riding in the correct car seat for their age, weight and developmental stage?

What if there were no drowsy drivers on the road and every driver, including commercial drivers, made sure they were well rested and prepared for the trip? What if every driver made sure their vehicle and tires were in good condition and everyone drove defensively and civilly? What if all drivers were looking out for each other?

What if all of these things could be done on the same day and Texas could once again enjoy a day where there was not one fatality on our roads? Then, we could put an end to this terrible streak of roadway deaths in Texas — and it would bear repeating! With the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays approaching, traffic on highways will increase. Pay attention to the “what if’s” listed above and drive responsibly.

The Big Thaw – Safely Thawing a Turkey

Every year, our office receives questions on thawing and cooking a turkey. Turkeys must be kept at a safe temperature during “the big thaw.” A package of frozen meat or poultry left thawing on the counter more than 2 hours is not at a safe temperature.

Refrigerator thawing is the recommended method. Plan ahead: allow approximately 24 hours for each 4 to 5 pounds in a refrigerator set at 40 °F or below. Place the turkey in a container to prevent the juices from dripping on other foods.

Refrigerator Thawing Times – whole turkey:

4 to 12 pounds — 1 to 3 days
12 to 16 pounds — 3 to 4 days
16 to 20 pounds — 4 to 5 days
20 to 24 pounds — 5 to 6 days
A thawed turkey can remain in the refrigerator for 1 or 2 days before cooking.

Cold water thawing can also be done, but there are some precautions to follow. Allow about 30 minutes per pound. First be sure the turkey is in a leak-proof plastic bag to prevent cross-contamination and to prevent the turkey from absorbing water, resulting in a watery product. Submerge the wrapped turkey in cold tap water. Change the water every 30 minutes until the turkey is thawed. Cook the turkey immediately after it is thawed.

4 to 12 pounds — 2 to 6 hours
12 to 16 pounds — 6 to 8 hours
16 to 20 pounds — 8 to 10 hours
20 to 24 pounds — 10 to 12 hours
A turkey thawed by the cold-water method should be cooked immediately.

Closing Thought

When the silences are no longer awkward, you know you are around friends. — Unknown

Author: Faith Huffman

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