Safety Tips Ahead of Thanksgiving


Thanksgiving is just days away. This holiday season, people are embracing the traditions they love best:

Gatherings with family and friends, and turkey platters with all the trimmings. And don’t forget a day of football – both in the backyard, and on our screens.

Still, there are some potential hazards to avoid, including injuries, cooking accidents and even food-
related illnesses.

Dr. Neal Shipley, Northwell Health-GoHealth Urgent Care’s medical director, offers these five tips, to
enjoy a happy – and safe – Thanksgiving.

1. Care for cooking burns: The increasingly popular deep-fried turkey can sometimes trigger fryer fires and burns. And it’s not unheard of to scald yourself with grease or piping-hot soup. So, it helps to understand how to assess and treat a burn. Start by running 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, including ibuprofen. Still, seek immediate medical care for burns that are larger than one-to-two inches, those in a sensitive area, or charred skin that’s white, brown, leathery or shiny.

2. Store leftovers quickly: In addition to preventing salmonella that can fester in poultry, you’ll want to avoid Clostridium perfingens. That’s a so-called “buffet germ,” which grows fastest in large portions like casseroles, gravies and any food sitting at room temperature. Both types of bacteria can trigger stomach discomfort. Never wash your turkey. Instead, cook your bird and
stuffing to at least 165⁰ F, and keep food at 140⁰ or warmer or 40⁰ or cooler if it’s not being consumed right away. For a safer option, consider preparing stuffing outside the bird. If you do suspect food poisoning, get plenty of fluids including electrolytes.

3. Know your knife safety protocols: Holidays can bring novices to the kitchen, including those friends and family members who lack the proper knife skills. Although there are more than one- third of knife-related injuries transpiring in the kitchen, you can protect your fingers by ensuring you have 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.

4. Wash hands, wash hands, wash hands: To prevent food poisoning and ailments like the flu, the number one hygiene recommendation is to wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Wash hands before and after touching your eyes, nose or mouth, prepping food, eating a meal, and using the restroom.

5. Practice sick-season protocols: This is peak cold-flu-COVID season, so consider establishing protocols such as checking vaccine statuses including flu vaccine. You can also ask guests to take rapid COVID-19 tests in advance of attendance. If your group has any high-risk individuals, consider even more rigorous testing protocols like PCR tests available at Northwell Health-
GoHealth Urgent Care centers. Ask guests to screen themselves for any cold, flu or COVID symptoms and stay home for even mild symptoms.

Leave a Reply