Common Thanksgiving Hazards and How to Avoid Them

Thanksgiving is a time for celebration and togetherness, but the approaching holiday also comes with potential hazards.

“With the risks posed by the COVID-cold-flu season and the typical hazards associated with holiday festivities, ensuring a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving should be your top priority,” says Dr. Michael
Green, associate medical director at Northwell Health-GoHealth Urgent Care.

Green shared his top tips so you can enjoy your holiday while also staying safe. Here are the top six recommendations:
1. Treating a cooking burn: Cooking-related house fires reach an all-time high on Thanksgiving
Day. The risk of a fire seems dangerous enough, but the holiday also offers plenty of
opportunities to burn yourself. So how do you assess and treat a burn?
First, run the burned area under lukewarm or cool water (not icy cold, as this can cause more
damage) for 10 to 15 minutes, and then check the burn for size and color. Most cooking-related
burns can be treated with soothing creams like aloe and over-the-counter pain medications. But
immediate medical care should be sought for burns larger than 1-2 inches, those in a really
sensitive area, or charred skin that’s white, brown, leathery or shiny.
2. Don’t rinse a raw turkey: Many people think rinsing a turkey before they cook it will wash away
harmful bacteria that poultry can contain. However, this practice causes bacteria-containing
droplets to splash across the sink, cooking surfaces, utensils, and nearby food, contaminating
the entire kitchen. Instead, pat your turkey with a paper towel before cooking, and then wash
your hands with soap and water.
3. Quickly put away your leftovers: Bacteria like salmonella and Clostridium perfingens – the so-
called “buffet germ” that grows at room temperature – will give you tummy trouble. Cook your
turkey and stuffing to at least 165⁰ F and keep food at 140⁰ or warmer or 40⁰ or cooler if it’s not
being eaten right away. Consider making your stuffing outside the bird for an even safer option.
If you suspect food poisoning, drink lots of fluids, including electrolytes.
4. Know your knife safety protocols: More than 1/3 of knife-related injuries happen in the kitchen.
Protect your fingers by using sharp knives, as dull blades require more pressure to cut. Curl your
fingers and cut away from your body when trimming or deboning. Keep your knives off counters
and out of sinks by washing and storing them immediately.
5. Sick-season protocols: Health professionals expect an uptick in cases of COVID-19, influenza,
and the common cold this holiday season. Consider putting protocols in place such as checking
COVID and flu vaccine statuses. You can also request guests take rapid COVID-19 tests in
advance of attendance. If your group has any high-risk individuals, you can consider even more
rigorous testing protocols like PCR tests available at Northwell Health-GoHealth centers. Ask
guests to screen themselves for any cold, flu or COVID symptoms and stay home even if
symptoms are mild.

Remind your guests to practice safe hygiene by washing their hands regularly. The rule always
bears repeating: wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after
touching your eyes, nose or mouth, prepping food, eating a meal, and using the restroom.
6. Prep before you play: An afternoon of backyard football is a common Thanksgiving tradition. As
a result, health professionals see an uptick in pulled muscles, sprained ankles, and broken
bones. The best defenses are to exercise regularly throughout the year, avoid alcohol before the
game, and stretch and warm up your body before engaging in intense play. Strains and sprains
are the types of injuries better seen at Northwell Health-GoHealth than at your ER.
“This Thanksgiving, let's come together to celebrate safely and responsibly,” said Dr. Green. “But
unexpected injuries happen, which is why our centers remain open on holidays.”
If you do experience a Thanksgiving injury, some of our centers will stay open till 8pm on Thanksgiving
to accommodate patients.
Northwell Health-GoHealth operates 59 conveniently located centers across New York so you don’t have
to travel far to be seen by a great provider if an illness or injury does occur. Because Northwell Health-
GoHealth is integrated with Northwell Health, referrals to specialists are seamless when necessary. For
more information, visit

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