Cut back on the booze, and other Thanksgiving safety tips from an urgent care doc

A couple drinks wine while cooking together
Photo credit Getty Images

(WWJ) It's that time of year again — when the holiday food is plentiful, and so is the alcohol.

Dr. Doru Bali, Medical Director of Henry Ford-GoHealth Urgent Care, says it's a good idea to skip the booze, or at least limit your alcohol intake if you're going to be in the kitchen.

"Every single Thanksgiving-related injury or hazard can be and is exacerbated by alcohol," Bali told WWJ Newsradio 950's Dan Jenkins. "Alcohol consumption dampens your ability to property manage kitchen knives, turkey fryers, your vehicle and so on."

The doctor's advice? "Consider including mocktails or sparkling waters and other alcohol-free options as part of your celebrations."

With more than a third of knife-related injuries happening in the kitchen, you can protect your fingers by making sure you have sharp knives, as dull blades require more pressure to cut, he said.

Dr. Bali and Henry Ford-GoHealth Urgent Care provided the following holiday safety tips:

Caring for cooking burns: The deep-fried turkey has earned a reputation for fryer fires and burns, but the Thanksgiving kitchen is also full of opportunities to scald yourself with grease or just off-the-burner soup. 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 sensitive area, or for charred skin that’s white, brown, leathery or shiny.

Prevent food poisoning: You may know salmonella can fester in poultry. But have you heard of Clostridium perfingens? It’s the so-called “buffet germ” that grows fastest in large portions like casseroles, gravies and any food sitting at room temperature. Both types of bacteria will give you stomach discomfort. Never wash your bird. 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 do suspect food poisoning, make sure to get lots of fluids including electrolytes.

Know your knife safety protocols: Even people who don’t cook often like to take a turn in the kitchen for Thanksgiving. That means there are a lot of people at the counter without proper knife skills. With more than 1/3 of knife-related injuries happening in the kitchen, you can protect your fingers by making sure 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.

Wash hands, wash hands, wash hands: Whether you’re trying to prevent food poisoning or the flu, the number one hygiene recommendation is to wash your hands. 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.

Sick-season protocols: Thanksgiving will happen at peak cold-flu-COVID season, so consider putting in place new protocols for guests like checking vaccine statuses including flu vaccine. You can also request that 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 COVID-19 PCR tests available at Henry Ford-GoHealth Urgent Care centers. Ask guests to screen themselves for any cold, flu or COVID symptoms and stay home for even mild symptoms.

Prep before you play: It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt, and here we’re talking about football. Thanksgiving is the peak day for football injuries for people ages 25 and older. From pulled muscles and sprained ankles to broken bones, ERs see an uptick in people who have taken on the vigorous sport without a lot of prep. The best defenses are to exercise regularly throughout the year, avoid alcohol before the game and stretch and warm up your body before and after engaging in intense play. Strains, sprains and mild fractures are the types of injuries better seen at Henry Ford-GoHealth Urgent Care than at your ER.

Limit alcohol intake: Every single Thanksgiving-related injury or hazard is exacerbated by alcohol. Consider this: DUI offenders being monitored for alcohol consumption increase their intake by 33% between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Alcohol consumption dampens your ability to properly manage everything from kitchen knives and turkey fryers to your vehicle. Consider including mocktails, sparkling waters and other alcohol-free options as part of your celebratory activities and offerings.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Getty Images