Most Common Thanksgiving Injuries


Nov 2, 2022


The emergency medical staff at Complete Care wishes you a happy Thanksgiving…and is here to share some of the most common Thanksgiving injuries and how they can be prevented. When asked the question, “What holiday is the busiest for the ER?” not many people would say Thanksgiving but the truth is, large family gatherings that require lots of cooking, eating, drinking, and playing can easily result in a trip to the emergency room if everyone isn’t careful. 

Common Thanksgiving accidents and injuries that we see often include overeating, food poisoning, cooking accidents (burns and cuts), and slip and fall injuries. Our emergency doctors and nurses are here to share some tips on how you and your family can have a wonderful day you can be truly thankful for by avoiding the most common Thanksgiving injuries.

1. Cooking accidents

What is the most common Thanksgiving injury? Because of all of the roasting, boiling, sauteing, slicing, dicing, and chopping, it’s easy to see how cooking burns and knife cuts are some of the most common Thanksgiving injuries. Thanksgiving dinner preparation and cooking can be very stressful to even the most seasoned of hosts, meaning mistakes are bound to happen. 

Whether it’s a plethora of hand injuries from handling knives or cooking burns from pots, pans, or ovens, you can prevent a Thanksgiving ER visit by planning ahead, slowing down, delegating tasks, and practicing basic kitchen safety. If an accident does happen, our Complete Care medical staff can handle any type of burn injury as well as first aid for cuts and scrapes, to get you back to celebrating in no time. 

2. Overeating

Turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, dressing, gravy, rolls…it’s so easy to fill your plate to the brim with all of these delicious foods! Unfortunately, most of us can relate to the phrase “your eyes are bigger than your stomach” when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner. We load up our plates, eat until we can barely move, and then slip into a food coma for a few hours before we’re ready for pumpkin pie. It’s madness! 

While overeating seems to be a given on Thanksgiving, it can be dangerous. Our bodies function best when our stomachs can digest food in moderation — but if we stuff our stomachs to the point where it can’t do its job properly, you will find yourself in an unpleasant and uncomfortable position. Excessive bloating and gas can trigger symptoms of heartburn and abdominal pain that can lead to a number of short- and long-term health problems if you’re not careful.

Follow these portion control tips so that you can have your fill without getting too full. If you have special dietary restrictions or health conditions like diabetes, be sure that you’re researching how you can safely make the most of this holiday. Our guide to Thanksgiving for diabetics can be a great tool to utilize this season! 

3. Food and alcohol poisoning

When food and drink are consumed in large quantities, there are opportunities for emergencies to occur. 

Food poisoning

Food poisoning caused by eating contaminated food is fairly common around Thanksgiving. When multiple people are cooking with raw ingredients and bringing dishes over large distances for the group to consume, accidents can happen. Symptoms of food poisoning can include abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, and a low fever. In order to prevent cross-contamination, we recommend that you:

  • Wash your hands before, during, and after the preparation and cooking process
  • Wear gloves when dealing with raw ingredients
  • Separate all raw ingredients from ready-to-eat items
  • Check the expiration dates on every item
  • Chill all food promptly (typically within a two-hour time frame)

Knowing when to go to ER for food poisoning can help a loved one or family member recover from unpleasant symptoms as soon as possible. 

Alcohol poisoning

Thanksgiving can be a great day to celebrate family and coming together but it can also be a very stressful time for some. And unfortunately, some may cope with that stress by popping open another bottle of wine or rummaging through the liquor cabinet. Believe us, you may not be so thankful for what comes next. 

If you’re going to have an adult beverage at Thanksgiving dinner, try to limit how many drinks you have in total and consume plenty of water throughout the day. Designate a sober driver before dinner if you are traveling to someone else’s home. Read our blog on what to do if you suspect someone has alcohol poisoning to know when a trip to the emergency room is necessary.

4. Slip and fall injuries 

Slip and fall injuries can happen to anyone at any time on Thanksgiving. For example, little Jimmy could fall while tree climbing outside, or Grandma Marge could slip on a spill in the kitchen — head injuries* can also occur if the cousins get rough while playing a little Thanksgiving football. In more common cases, bodily injury due to slips and falls happen quite often to those doing the heavy lifting in the kitchen or hanging up decorations on Thanksgiving day.

Slips and falls, when serious, can warrant Thanksgiving ER visits. This is why it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and to create the safest environment possible when many people are gathered together. 

*Read our blog on how to treat a concussion if a loved one is slurring their speech, vomiting, having seizures, or losing consciousness. It’s important to seek medical help immediately. 

Complete Care can handle any of the most common Thanksgiving injuries!

The most common Thanksgiving injuries can be easily prevented by practicing safe skills and healthy habits. By avoiding the food coma or executing careful cooking tips, you can avoid any Thanksgiving ER visits this year!

However, in the event that you need us, every Complete Care location will be open on Thanksgiving day to help you and your loved ones get in, out, and back to giving thanks. Our medical staff can handle any emergency that comes our way. With us, you are in good hands. 

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