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Why Thanksgiving Might End at Immediate Care

Thanksgiving Day Safety Tips

Whether you’re hosting your family or celebrating with a “friendsgiving”, nothing says Thanksgiving Day like a table filled with food. Our immediate care physicians share the most common Thanksgiving Day injuries and tips to keep you safe this holiday season.


Between sauces simmering on the stove, pies baking in the oven, roasted side dishes and deep-fried turkeys, there is an increased risk for burns during the holidays. Use thick oven mitts when removing prepared dishes from the oven and keep kitchen towels and other flammable materials away from the stove to prevent unexpected fires. While some minor burns can be treated at home, severe burns require medical attention. 

Deep-frying your turkey can cause severe injuries. The most common hazards include: 

Oil Temperature
Although different cooking oils can be heated to various maximum degrees, oil that is too hot is flammable. Use a thermometer to regularly measure the temperature. If the oil begins to smoke, reduce the heat immediately. 

Oil Level in Fryer
Your Thanksgiving turkey will displace oil when placed in the fryer. An overfilled pot could result in oil spilling out of your fryer, posing a high risk for a larger fire to ensue. To measure how much cooking oil you will need, place your turkey in the empty pot of your fryer and cover it with water. Remove the turkey and mark the top of the waterline to use as a guide when adding oil to the fryer on Thanksgiving Day. 

Partially Frozen Turkey
The amount of time needed to thaw a frozen turkey depends on its size. Frozen water turns to steam when it comes into contact with hot oil, causing the oil to boil over. Ensure that your turkey is fully thawed and patted dry before carefully placing it in the fryer. 

Handling the Turkey
Use caution when placing your turkey in and removing your turkey from your deep fryer. Hot oil that splashes from the pot could cause serious burns to your face, hands and other body parts.

Knife Injuries

With all of the dicing, slicing, chopping and carving, knife injuries can be a common Thanksgiving Day injury. Sharp knives require less pressure and their blade glides into the food you are preparing more easily. If time allows, sharpen your knives before the big day. Additionally, practicing safe habits such as curling your fingers and ensuring that you are cutting on a flat surface, can lessen your risk of accidents.

Food Poisoning

Proper food handling and hygiene is crucial to preventing food borne illness. How unused ingredients are stored, prepared and held before serving the final dish, play an important role in food safety.

Proper Food Storage
Raw meats should always be kept covered at the bottom of your refrigerator and stored away from other food. 

Create a Clean Environment
Wash your hands with soap and water before you start preparing food and after handling raw foods. Start your food preparation with a clean work station that is stocked with all of the items you will need. Have separate cutting boards for raw foods such as meat or poultry, as well as foods that will be eaten raw such as fruit or vegetable platters. Also, have a few hand towels available in order to dry clean hands or wipe down surfaces, using a different color for each can be helpful. 

Temperature Control
Temperature control is the only way to kill harmful bacteria that can cause illness. Bacteria grow rapidly between 40° F and 140° F, which is known as the “danger zone”.

  • Cooking Temperatures - The minimum internal temperatures for raw meats and poultry vary by type. Roasted poultry, such as turkey, should be cooked to a minimum of 325° F. 
  • Maintaining Temperatures - Simply put, to keep food out of the danger zone, make sure cold food stays cold and hot food stays hot. Cooked, hot food should be kept at or above 140° F and not left out more than one hour. Keep cold foods at or below 40° F by placing food in an ice bath. 
  • Storing Leftovers - Properly cool leftover food before putting them in your refrigerator. Place leftover food in shallow containers to lower the temperature quicker.


A favorite Thanksgiving Day pastime for many family celebrations involves getting outside to work off the after-dinner sluggishness. Whether your family enjoys taking a brisk walk around the neighborhood or playing a friendly game of tag in the backyard, keep your health in mind. Know your limits, take breaks when needed and be sure to drink plenty of water.

Stay safe this holiday season by avoiding common injuries. Staffed by board-certified emergency medicine physicians, our immediate care facilities are here when you need us. For a listing of our holiday hours, treatable conditions or to schedule an appointment, call 1.888.MY.DMG.DR (1-888-693-6437) or visit www.dupagemedicalgroup.com/holiday-hours/.

Topics and Subtopics: General Health & Diet & Nutrition

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