Parkland Medical Center - November 22, 2018

The holiday season has begun, family is on the way, and you’re in charge of the turkey! What could possibly go wrong? Between the travel, the stress, and high alcohol consumption ... quite a bit. Thanksgiving is the busiest day of the year in most emergency rooms. But knowing the top dangers can help you go from prep to dessert without incident.

Burns and cuts

A quick recipe for disaster: lots of helping hands, a few glasses of wine, and a sharp carving knife. It’s not surprising that a holiday focused around a meal leads to lots of kitchen mishaps. To avoid burns and cuts, slow down and save the alcohol until the cooking is done. One more piece of deep-fried advice: While everyone knows that the oil used in deep-frying a turkey poses a fire hazard, you might not know that leaving the turkey a little frozen or wet, even inside the cavity, can cause the bird to catch fire, or even explode, when it hits hot oil.

Food poisoning

Food that’s not heated properly or refrigerated promptly can make you sick. Salmonella, from an undercooked turkey, can cause diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps for hours and even days. It can happen to even the best professional chefs. The solution? Rely on a meat thermometer, not a timer, to tell you when your meat and sides are fully cooked. And refrigerate leftovers before heading out for a walk or a family football game.

Stomach or chest pains

Heartburn and indigestion from Thanksgiving goodies can create painful side effects that may be mistaken for more serious symptoms. Because it’s always better to be safe than sorry, anyone with acute pain should call 911, even if the culprit turns out to be that extra serving of oyster stuffing. Overexertion from pickup football, wrestling with the nephews, or carrying luggage can also cause shortness of breath and a straining or tight feeling in the chest.

Family stress

Heavy travel volume, mandatory family time, and increased alcohol consumption combine to make Thanksgiving a pressure cooker of a holiday. The result is migraines, panic attacks, irregular heartbeats, and more that turn celebrants into patients. To cut down on seasonal stress, consider traveling during off-peak hours and simplifying your meal and traditions, make sleep a priority, allow time for yourself, and minimize high-stress situations.

Should you find that your Thanksgiving celebration does produce a medical emergency, delay dessert and head to the emergency room.