Three Ways to Avoid a Trip to the
ER This Thanksgiving
Emergency Physicians Offer Tips for a Safe
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[November 22, 2017]
Thanksgiving should be a time for family, friends and
plenty of delicious food, not for preventable trips to the emergency
room. These suggestions from the nation’s emergency physicians could
help you avoid an unexpected trip to the emergency room this holiday
“This Thanksgiving, a few simple steps to avoid preventable injury
or illness can go a long way toward making sure you safely enjoy the
holiday,” said Paul Kivela, MD, FACEP, president of the American
College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP). “It is important to take the
time to enjoy this special time of year. But, if the need arises,
emergency physicians treat patients 24-hours a day, even on
holidays, and we will be there for you.”
Follow food safety guidelines. For many people, the most important
part of Thanksgiving is a big meal surrounded by friends and loved
ones. Mishandling raw meat or other ingredients could transmit
harmful bacteria or lead to some very unpleasant stomach pains.
Wash your hands thoroughly when handling uncooked meat and keep it
separate from other foods. Be sure to sanitize any surface that
touches raw food. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC) recommends that oven temperatures should be no lower than 325
If you have allergies and you did not cook the meal yourself,
remember to ask about the ingredients and how food was prepared.
And, don’t forget to refrigerate all leftovers within 2 hours. Pace
yourself when a big meal is involved, whether you are preparing,
eating or cleaning up afterward. If your gathering includes
alcoholic beverages, drink in moderation. And of course, do not
drink and drive.
Take your time to avoid common injuries. It can be hard not to get
caught up in the holiday hustle. Careful planning for meal
preparation can help you make sure there is plenty of time to get
the job done. Be careful, knife injuries from slicing food are some
of the most common Thanksgiving mishaps. Many accidents occur when
carving or cutting too quickly.
Accidents or fires can be caused by trying to do too
many things at once, exposure to hot liquid or oil splashes. Lifting
heavy pots or plates? Bend at the knees and avoid back injuries.
Deep frying a turkey can be especially dangerous, especially for
novice cooks. Never attempt to deep fry a frozen turkey, it should
be completely thawed out first. And, frying a turkey should be done
a safe distance away from any flammable structure.
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Exercise safely, don’t overdo it. Participating in a traditional
Thanksgiving sporting event? If a “Turkey Bowl” or other athletic activity is
part of your celebration remember to stretch first and avoid overexertion. Avoid
weather-related issues such as hypothermia or frostbite by dressing
appropriately for the weather outside. The ER will likely see a spate of
holiday-related sprains, muscle tears or other injuries. Especially for those
who may not exercise regularly, one way to decrease the likelihood of injury is
to play touch football rather than tackle.
Thanksgiving can also be a challenge for those coping with mental health issues.
Whether it comes from the pressure to entertain, financial strain, family
tension or other issues, stress runs high this time of year. It is important to
recognize and treat the symptoms of anxiety, depression or other mental health
disorders with professional help as needed. Better self-care can ward off things
that may send you to the ER like panic attacks, complications from alcohol abuse
or other emergencies.
“Distractions, multi-tasking and poor decisions make Thanksgiving one of the
busier days in many emergency departments. If an emergency does occur, don’t
delay a trip to the ER, putting off care might seem convenient at the time but
poses serious health risks,” said Dr. Kivela.
ACEP is the national medical specialty society representing emergency medicine.
ACEP is committed to advancing emergency care through continuing education,
research and public education. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, ACEP has 53
chapters representing each state, as well as Puerto Rico and the District of
Columbia. A Government Services Chapter represents emergency physicians employed
by military branches and other government agencies.