Gathering again? Tips for a safe and healthy Thanksgiving

November 22, 2022

Associated Press

Certain holidays are known for specific injuries and Thanksgiving’s no exception, said Dr. Christopher Kang, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians. Carve carefully. Slicing a turkey is a lot harder than it looks, as Turkey Day injuries attest. “Always, with any cutting and carving, we see a lot of hand injuries and finger injuries,” said Kang, an ER doctor in Tacoma, Washington. Make sure the carving knife is sharp and never slice toward yourself, always away. Don’t put your hand under the blade to catch a slice of meat.

Beware, turkey fryer fires. Deep-fried turkey may sound delectable, but it’s a dangerous dish for home cooks to prepare. The fryers can tip over and spill -- and the combination of a frozen or not-quite-thawed turkey and hot oil can create an explosion. Even when that doesn’t happen, Kang said he’s seen plenty of painful scalding injuries caused by hot oil.

Thanksgiving gatherings also kick off a spike in other ER visits as generations gather and swap germs. This year, the danger posed by COVID-19 and other viruses, including an early flu season and RSV, respiratory syncytial virus, is a continuing worry, Kang said. Babies and young children are particularly vulnerable to some infections; older people are more susceptible to others. “What age group is not at risk?” Kang said. To reduce the chances of infection and serious illness, make sure everyone eligible is up-to-date on vaccinations. Ask folks who have any symptoms of illness — even “allergies” or “just a cold” — to stay home. Consider asking guests to take a rapid COVID-19 test before they show up. Make sure your home is well-ventilated: Open windows, keep a portable air purifier running. To protect the most vulnerable guests, consider wearing masks indoors.

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