Thanksgiving Safety Tips from a Hand Therapist

Thanksgiving is just days away! You have your recipes organized, and you’ve checked your shopping list twice. What could go wrong?  

While hand injuries typically account for around 10% of ER visits, on Thanksgiving, that percentage skyrockets. To reduce your risk of injury, review our list of common injuries and ways to avoid them. Most importantly, take your time and have a wonderful holiday with family and friends!


Top Thanksgiving Injuries


With all the slicing and dicing, it is no surprise that knife cuts are a significant threat to all cooks on Thanksgiving. To avoid cuts:

  • Give yourself plenty of space

  • Ensure the area and tools are dry to prevent slippage

  • Use sharp knives to reduce the amount of force required

  • Cut away from your body

  • Ensure blades are in a safe location and visible (do not throw into soapy water)


While kitchen burns are common on Thanksgiving, deep fryers are the most severe risk.

  • Keep a fire extinguisher handy

  • Do not pour water on a grease fire

  • In the event of a grease fire, turn off the heat source, use a metal lid to smother the fire, or use a fire extinguisher

  • If using a turkey fryer, follow the manufacturer instructions to a tee

  • Turkey fryers should only be used outdoors on a stable, non-combustible surface, and away from children and pets

  • Do not overfill the fryer. Doing so will cause spillover.

  • Make sure the turkey is completely thawed and dry before frying

  • Never leave a turkey fryer unattended


First Aid Tips

For Cuts:

  • Wash with soap and water

  • Apply pressure with a clean cloth or bandage

  • For minor cuts, apply antibacterial ointment and cover with a bandage or gauze and tape.

  • Seek immediate treatment if the cut does not stop bleeding after 15 minutes

  • See your doctor if the cut becomes inflamed or oozes

For Burns:

  • First, determine how severe the burn is

    • First-degree burns are red and turn white when you press on it

    • Second-degree burns are also red but deeper. In addition to being red, they often blister or swell.

    • Third-degree burns are white or black on top and may not hurt because of nerve damage.

  • Second, apply first aid:

    • First-degree: place the injured area under cool, running water for 3-5 minutes. Then apply antibiotic ointment and cover with a clean bandage. Change bandage regularly.

    • Second-degree: soak the injured area in cool water for 15-30 minutes. Apply antibiotic cream and cover with a sterile dressing. Check for signs of infection and change dressing daily.

    • Third-degree: Cover in cool, wet dressing and seek immediate medical attention by calling 911 or heading to the emergency room.

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