Thanksgiving Safety Tips From Three Summit Doctors
Drs. Anderson, Hildahl, and Wahlquist want to help you avoid the Thanksgiving injuries they treat in November.
The Thanksgiving holiday is our time to gather friends and family to celebrate the abundance in our lives with a golden roast turkey and all the trimmings. For the specialists at Summit, November is also a time when predictable holiday-related injuries appear in their exam rooms. We asked foot and ankle specialist Dr. Mike Anderson, hand and shoulder surgeon Dr. Blake Hildahl, and spine specialist Dr. Trevor Wahlquist to share their top Thanksgiving safety tips to help you avoid injuries they treat every November.
Practice Thanksgiving safety when carving the turkey
The turkey is the star of the holiday feast, but carving it can be hazardous to your health. “Most of us don’t carve a big turkey on a regular basis,” says Dr. Hildahl. “When you are using knives to perform an unfamiliar task, there’s more risk of an accident. Mix in a crowded kitchen and possibly cocktail consumption, and it’s easy to understand why I treat injured hands in my practice at this time of year.”
He has a few tips to help you serve your turkey safely. “A roast turkey can be awkward to handle,” he says. “Make sure you’ve got a large, stable cutting surface and enough room to work. I also encourage people to wear a cutting or carving glove on the nondominant hand used to hold the bird. Those gloves are designed to stop a blade before it makes contact with your hand. Finally, as you carve, position the knife so that you are always cutting away from your body and limbs. This further minimizes your risk if the knife slips.”
“And don’t forget about your feet,” cautions Dr. Anderson. “Minnesotans are in the habit of removing their shoes when they come into a home. That can mean unprotected feet in the kitchen. You would be amazed how many people drop a knife on their foot during the holidays. I’ve repaired several lacerated foot tendons in November.”
Thanksgiving safety tips to prevent falls at home
Holiday celebration is all about bringing extended family together. But slippery winter conditions elevate the risk that visiting family members may take a spill between their car and the front door. Older relatives are particularly at risk. “Injuries to the elderly can be life-changing,” cautions Dr. Anderson. “A hip fracture, ankle fracture or other lower extremity injury can have an impact on mobility immediately after the injury. Recovery can mean a prolonged period of restricted activity. Carrying heavy objects—even groceries—may be prohibited. In addition, after a fall, elderly people can have a tough time regaining strength. Data tell us that a large portion of elderly patients who severely injure a hip, knee, or ankle will never regain their pre-injury level of function or independence.”
So, what Thanksgiving safety measures can you take to keep your family safe? “If it’s snowy or icy, make sure walkways are shoveled and salted,” suggests Dr. Anderson. “Escort elderly family members outside if there are icy steps, walkways, and driveways. Inside your home, remove rugs that could cause older guests to stumble. When kids and grandkids are mingling with grandpa and grandma, supervise the interactions. Children don’t always understand the fragility of older relatives, and could accidently knock them over or trip them.”
Thanksgiving safety awareness doesn’t end at midnight on Thanksgiving Day
Back injuries are a risk when conditions are slippery, and falls don’t only happen at home. “Black Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year—and a tradition in a lot of families,” says Dr. Wahlquist. “In Minnesota, the day after Thanksgiving can be cold, snowy, and icy. Unruly crowds track snow into malls and stores. As they do, floors get wet and conditions become slick and dangerous. If you lose your balance and fall, you could hurt your back, your arm, or your ankle. If you do, of course Drs. Anderson, Hildahl, and I would be happy to see you. But we are pretty sure you’d rather spend your holiday weekend with your family. So, watch for slippery wet patches as you are hunting for bargains. And try to steer clear of running, pushing crowds.”
“My advice for Black Friday is to avoid it,” laughs Dr. Anderson. “No smoking hot deal is worth risking life or limb. Losing your balance could be a bigger deal than you bargained for if it results in a broken bone, strain, or sprain. And no bargain is worth hurting yourself and ruining your holiday.”
Drs. Anderson, Hildahl, and Wahlquist—and all of us at Summit—hope these Thanksgiving safety tips will help make good health one of the things you are most thankful for this holiday season.
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