How To Avoid Common Thanksgiving Hazards

November 20, 2018

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to enjoy a meal with the ones you love. Make sure the people you care about are safe this holiday season by avoiding some of the most common Thanksgiving hazards. 

Heart Failure

The American Heart Association notes that the risk of having a heart attack can be as much as four times higher in the hours after eating a large meal, especially one that is high in fat.

Add to that the fact that studies have found cold weather to be harder on the heart and the stress of the holidays, and the risk of a heart attack can be increased by at least 5% during the holiday season.

There are a few easy ways to decrease your heart attack risk on Thanksgiving while still enjoying the day with family. Avoid excess salt, eat smaller portions, start with vegetables, avoid excessive drinking, remember to destress, and don’t ignore symptoms because you don’t want to “spoil the holiday.”

It may be “just one meal”, but if you have underlying conditions, a large, indulgent meal could trigger a serious heart problem. Read more about heart disease here:

Knife Injuries

Knife injuries are a leading cause of medical issues on Thanksgiving. It is a time when many who do not regularly cook enter the kitchen or when experienced cooks are distracted, stressed, or drinking.

One important tip is to carve the turkey in the kitchen. You may picture someone at the head of the table, knife and fork in hand, carving each person a piece of turkey, but it is much safer to carve the turkey in the kitchen on a steady surface with good lighting and bring the slices to the table on a platter.

Before you whip up that holiday meal, make sure to read these knife safety tips:


Like knife injuries, burns are common during cooking for Thanksgiving. One of the major dangers when it comes to cooking for Thanksgiving, is frying turkeys. Always ensure your turkey is completely defrosted and dried with a paper towel before placing it in the fryer. Remember, a grease fire cannot be extinguished using water.

Read more about how handle burns if they happen this Thanksgiving:

Food Poisoning

Salmonella contamination of turkey made the news just before Thanksgiving and, while concerning, the biggest concern when it comes to food poisoning is food preparation.

Read these tips on ensuring that your turkey and the stuffing inside it reach the proper temperature, immediately refrigerating leftovers, properly defrosting your bird, and more to avoid illness this Thanksgiving: 

Car Accidents

Car accidents tend to spike around heavy travel days such as those surrounding Thanksgiving. The number one way to stay safe in the car is to never drink and drive or get in the car with someone who has been drinking. Remember, a safe ride is just a few taps away with apps like Uber and Lyft.

Another huge issue for those traveling during the holidays is driving while sleep-deprived. Whether you’re waking up early to make a long drive after a late night or driving home after spending longer than planned visiting with family, remember, it’s always better to arrive late than to not arrive at all. Sleepy drivers are involved in 100,000 crashes a year causing 1,500 deaths and more than 70,000 injuries. 

It's also important to put your phone down before getting behind the wheel. Read more about why even using your phone "only at stoplights" is bad: 


As fun as the holidays can be, they can also be a very stressful time. Whether you’re traveling to visit family, hosting people in your home, or stuck working, remember to take time to destress.

Avoid self-medicating with alcohol. Take time out for yourself to relax and do activities you enjoy. Take a walk to clear your head if needed.

Read these tips for dealing with stress:

Sports Injuries

It’s practically a Thanksgiving cliché that after the big meal, family members head outside to play a game of football. Remember to stretch, warm up, and avoid over-exertion while playing sports.

Here is some important information about common injuries that happen while playing sports:

Domestic Violence

Unfortunately, the holidays can be a time when domestic violence increases. There may be pressure to spend time with relatives you generally don’t get along with during the holidays.

The added stress of travelling, crowded homes, unmet expectations, and increased spending can all lead to increased tensions that spark conflict. Drinking during family gatherings may also exacerbate the problem.

If a situation is getting out of control, remove yourself if you can do so safety, and call for help.

Here are some ways to recognize domestic violence:


It’s great to get together with family for Thanksgiving. However, the more people you’re coming in contact with, the more likely you are to get the flu. The CDC recommends everyone who is 6 months or older get vaccinated. The flu vaccine is the number one way to prevent getting the flu.

More about keeping the flu away:

We’re here for you on Thanksgiving if you need us.

For minor injuries or illness, NHRMC’s ExpressCare location near Mayfaire and NHRMC’s Urgent Care location in Wallce are both open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

If you are facing a serious emergency, call 911. NHRMC’s Emergency Departments are open 24/7, including holidays.

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