Thanksgiving is a time for gathering with family, reflecting on what’s important and of course, eating lots of turkey. But if you’re not careful, the star of your holiday dinner table could hurt your health.
Recent data suggests Thanksgiving has become of the most dangerous days of the year when it comes to driving, fires and food poisoning. Follow these tips to avoid spoiling the holiday cheer.
Thaw properly. One of the easiest ways to prevent a Thanksgiving mishap is to make sure your turkey is safely thawed. Not doing so could lead to bacteria that can cause several foodborne illnesses, including E. coli and salmonella. Choose one of these three methods:
- Refrigerator: This method takes the most time, but many experts say it’s the safest. Make sure the fridge’s temperature is 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below. Keep the turkey in its original wrapper and place it in a container to prevent juices from leaking. You should allow 24 hours to thaw for every four to five pounds of weight.
- Cold-Water: Keep the turkey in its original packaging to help ensure that it doesn’t leak and to keep bacteria from spreading. Use cold water to submerge the bird, making sure to change the water every 30 minutes. Thawing time should take 30 minutes per pound.
- Microwave: Follow the microwave’s defrosting instructions, and plan to cook the bird immediately, because some parts of the turkey may already begin to cook during the defrosting process. Waiting to cook may cause bacteria to spread, leading to food poisoning.
Remember: To keep potential bacteria away from other food and avoid cross contamination, make sure your turkey is placed in a pan or a leak-proof container.
If you’re exposed to either E. coli or salmonella, you could start feeling the effects as early as a day after or up to a week later. Signs and symptoms to watch for include diarrhea, abdominal cramping and vomiting. Fever is generally associated with salmonella poisoning. You should get to the ER if your diarrhea lasts longer than a week or is red in color. E. coli can be passed between family and friends, so be sure to properly wash your hands when handling raw meat.
Prevent grease burns. Deep-fried turkeys are becoming more and more popular. As tasty as they are, though, the contraptions they’re cooked in have caused hundreds of dangerous fires, burns and even explosions, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Many injuries occur, every year, due to turkey fryers every year – from mild burns caused by people dipping their fingers in the fryer to more severe and devastating burns if the fryer topples over.
If you do use a fryer, follow these tips:
- Set up the fryer at least 10 feet away from your home (not on the porch or in the garage).
- Keep children and pets away.
- Make sure the turkey is dry and thawed.
- Don’t overfill the fryer with oil.
- Have a fire extinguisher ready.
Burns are just as common among those who roast the turkey in the oven. Generally, these types of burns can be treated at home by simply running the affected area under cool water for 20 minutes. Then gently clean the burn with antibacterial soap. Try applying aloe vera or honey to the affected area to soothe the sting of the burn. You can also take acetaminophen or ibuprofen as needed for the pain. If the burn is severe, call 911 or get to the ER.
Carve carefully. Carving up the main course is one of those great holiday traditions, but it doesn’t come without risks. Remember these carving tips to stay safe this Thanksgiving:
- Never carve toward yourself.
- Make sure your table or carving station is well lit.
- Only use sharp utensils.
- Never place your hand under the blade.
Accidents happen. And a trip to the ER for stitches may be in order if the cut is deep and it won’t stop bleeding after 10 minutes of direct pressure.
Watch the sodium. Food is one of the best parts about Thanksgiving, but it’s also to blame for many heart-related hospital visits this time of year, thanks to super-rich meals loaded with sodium.
Stay heart healthy by practicing portion control and aiming for around 2.5 grams of sodium per day.
Too much sodium can affect kidney function and lead to kidney stones.
No matter how hard we try, sometimes life happens beyond our control. Osceola Regional Medical Center emergency department is here to help in these situations. Now also providing two freestanding ERs in Orlando: Hunter’s Creek ER and Millenia ER. For more information, visit OsceolaRegional.com.