From your health and wellness experts at Prisma Health
Health, Safety

Prevent turkey-related trauma

Thanksgiving is a time for family, food and football, but it can also be a time for turkey-related trauma. 
Plastic surgeon Emily G. Clark, MD, urges everyone to “please take extra care this Thanksgiving to ensure your special time with family does not become a tragic accident.”
Hospitals see a spike in hand injuries during Thanksgiving and the winter holidays. Every year, people suffer severe cuts while carving a turkey, and with the rise in popularity of deep-fried turkey, Thanksgiving has become the peak day for home cooking fires.
Dr. Clark shares some tips from the American Society for Surgery of the Hand and U.S. Fire Administration to prevent turkey-related trauma:

When carving a turkey: 

  • Never cut toward yourself.
  • Don’t place your hand underneath the blade to catch the slice of meat.
  • Keep your knife handles and cutting area dry to avoid slips.
  • Keep all cutting utensils sharp. A dull knife can cause you to use greater force when cutting, which can cause a slip and an injury. 
  • If possible, use an electric knife.
  • Do not try to cut bones with the knife. Use kitchen shears instead.
If you cut yourself and applying pressure to the wound does not stop the bleeding after 15 minutes, head to the emergency room. Also, seek care if you aren’t able to thoroughly cleanse the wound with soap and water or if you aren’t sure about your tetanus immunization status. Within a few days, if you have persistent numbness/tingling or have trouble bending your fingers, seek further care.

When deep-frying a turkey: 

  • Use your turkey fryer outdoors only. 
  • Make sure the surface is sturdy, level and far away from any flammable items. 
  • Keep a kid-free and pet-free zone around the fryer. 
  • Do not overfill the pot. The oil could spill over when you place the turkey in the pot if there’s too much oil. 
  • Make sure your turkey is completely thawed before you fry it. Frozen parts of the turkey can cause the oil to splatter and burn someone. 
  • Turkey fryers can easily overheat and start a fire. Check the temperature often with a cooking thermometer so the oil won’t overheat.
  • Always use cooking gloves that protect your hands and arms when handling the pot, lid or fryer handles.

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