Emergency Physicians’ Tips to Prevent a Thanksgiving Emergency

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Emergency physicians will be working hard over the holidays and the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) has suggestions to make sure that this year’s Thanksgiving celebrations are not interrupted by a medical emergency.  

“A bit of planning can go a long way toward making sure that Thanksgiving celebrations don’t involve a trip to the emergency department,” said Christopher S. Kang, MD, FACEP, president of ACEP. “Be careful of potential injuries and troubling symptoms, and do not hesitate to go to the closest emergency department if an emergency occurs.”

Food poisoning. It’s no surprise that food-related accidents and illness are a major source of Thanksgiving emergencies. Food poisoning can result from improper handling, cooking or storage of turkey and other items commonly on a Thanksgiving plate. Leftovers are good for three to four days at most, when refrigerated properly. Avoid placing cooked food or fresh produce on a cutting board or other surface that touched raw turkey. Do not wash raw turkey or other meats, the CDC recommends, as that can spread bacteria around the sink and surrounding area.  

Kitchen fires and burns. The kitchen is where most Thanksgiving accidents happen, but steps can be taken to avoid severe harm. If a grease fire starts, don’t throw water on it because that can cause the flames to spread. If a fire starts in the oven, keep the door closed and turn off the heat. Be extra cautious when deep frying a turkey—make sure the bird is fully thawed and you cook it outside in a cleared, contained space. Anytime flames are spreading out of control, do not hesitate to call 911.

Knife-related injuries. Preparing a large meal can be stressful, take your time to avoid nicks and cuts from knives or other sharp utensils. 

Car accidents. Thanksgiving is widely known as one of the busiest days on the road. If Thanksgiving plans include time in the car, make sure to factor in plenty of time for traffic, consider preparing a travel safety kit, and do not drink and drive

“The winter months are busy in the nation’s emergency departments,” said Dr. Kang. “Still, emergency physicians are always ready to care for you during any emergency, especially during the holidays.”

The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) is the national medical society representing emergency medicine. Through continuing education, research, public education, and advocacy, ACEP advances emergency care on behalf of its 40,000 emergency physician members, and the more than 150 million people they treat on an annual basis. For more information, visit www.acep.org and www.emergencyphysicians.org

Contact: Steve Arnoff | sarnoff@acep.org | Twitter @EmergencyDocs

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