The Broome County Health Department wants to remind families celebrating Thanksgiving this week, that improper preparation or storage of their turkey could result in potential food poisoning.

Here's how to avoid that:

Firstly, the turkey must be thawed and cooked within certain temperature ranges in order to prevent the growth of bacteria, which is what causes food poisoning. If you plan on cooking a fresh turkey, you should either buy it today (Tuesday, November 22nd) or on Wednesday, November 23rd, to then be served on Thanksgiving Day. You must refrigerate the turkey immediately, and be sure that your refrigerator is set at 45 degrees Fahrenheit, or lower.

If you have a frozen turkey that you purchased in advance of this week, you must account for the time it takes to properly thaw out the turkey. You should never thaw a frozen turkey at room temperature, because the higher temperature promotes growth of disease-causing bacteria.

The preferred method to thaw turkey is in the refrigerator, where a steady cold temperature is guaranteed. You should allow approximately 24 hours in the refrigerator for every five pounds of turkey -- so for instance, an 18-pound turkey, will need 3-4 days in the refrigerator to thaw. If you have not taken your turkey out to thaw yet, you should do so as soon as possible.

A frozen turkey can also be thawed in cold running water. A 12-pound turkey takes about six hours to thaw in cold water, while large birds (20 to 24 pounds) take about 12 hours. A turkey that's thawed in the refrigerator, or in cold water, can be kept in the refrigerator for an additional 1-2 days after thawing.

Once completely thawed -- remove the turkey’s neck and giblet pieces, then wash it inside and out with cold water.

It’s better to cook stuffing outside the turkey because a stuffed turkey takes longer to reach the proper internal temperature to be safe to eat. If stuffing is cooked inside the turkey, stuff it very loosely and ensure it reaches a temperature of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Be sure to wash everything that comes into contact with the uncooked turkey with hot, soapy water.

Read the label for cooking instructions and check the temperature with a food probe thermometer. The internal temperature of the center of the meat, away from the bone should be at least 165 degree Fahrenheit. When storing leftovers, remove turkey from the bone, and refrigerate it within two hours of cooking. Use leftover turkey or stuffing within 3 days and leftover gravy within 1-2 days.

All the information provided is courtesy of the Broome County Health Department via a press release.

Happy Thanksgiving, and stay safe!