How to Stay Out of the ER This Thanksgiving

By Ashley Hayes
WebMD Health News

Millions of us will gather around the table to feast with friends and family this Thanksgiving for what we hope will be a joyful holiday.

So the last thing you want to do is spoil it with a trip to the emergency room or your nearest urgent care.

Food preparation risks – from cuts to burns to food poisoning – could dampen the festivities, along with over-imbibing. Viruses like cold and flu can be uninvited Thanksgiving guests. Even our furry friends can be at risk if they eat something that isn’t good for them.

A cooking fire is three times more likely to happen on Thanksgiving than any other day of the year, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. The top cause: Unattended equipment. And most outbreaks of Clostridium perfringens – the second most common bacterial cause of food poisonings – occur in November or December, according to the CDC. Meat and poultry account for the majority of those outbreaks with a single identified food source.

Here are some ways you and your family can stay safe this holiday:

Food Safety

    Defrost food safely. Don’t thaw frozen food on the counter. The safest way to defrost is in the refrigerator. If you microwave food on the “defrost” setting or using 50% power, cook it immediately.
    Wash utensils, work surfaces, and your hands. Other food can become contaminated with bacteria from raw poultry, so be sure to wash utensils, cutting boards and other surfaces and your hands with hot, soapy water. Even better: use different cutting boards for different types of food. Also, keep raw foods separate from ready-to-eat foods.

Sharp Objects

    Keep your fingers out of harm’s way when cutting food by curling your fingertips under on the hand that’s holding what you’re cutting. This puts your knuckles, not your fingers, nearest the knife. Cut food in the direction away from your body.
    Let a falling knife fall. Step back and warn others, but don’t try to catch it.
    Watch knife placement. Don’t place knives near the edge of a counter top. When handing someone a knife, put it down on a clean surface and allow them to pick it up.

Preventing Burns/Fires

    Use extreme caution with turkey fryers. Turkey fryers can easily tip over, spilling hot oil, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. In addition, an overfilled pot will cause oil to spill when a turkey is put in, and a partially frozen turkey will cause hot oil to splatter.

Drinking Alcohol

    Space it out. Make every other drink a nonalcoholic one.

Cold and Flu

    If you are sick, stay home. Others will thank you for not spreading your germs.

Pet Safety

    Keep certain foods away. Onions, grapes and raisins and chocolate can all be hazardous to your dog or cat’s health or even fatal. And while a small amount of cooked turkey, a bit of mashed potatoes or even a taste of pumpkin pie shouldn’t cause a problem, too much fatty, rich or unfamiliar food could upset your pet’s stomach or even lead to serious digestive problems or pancreatitis.
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