5 Reasons People Visit the ER on Thanksgiving

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, emergency room visits spike for a number of reasons. As more people get together and celebrate the holidays with friends and family, the possibility of injury increases as more risk factors are introduced. Everything from cooking food to drinking excessively can lead to various accidents or illnesses and subsequent visits to the ER.

The following are some of the biggest reasons ER doctors tend to see more patients on Thanksgiving Day.

1. Burns

Thanksgiving celebrations tend to revolve around large meals that entail long or repeated periods of cooking. As homeowners prepare for family feasts, the individual is likely to cook a turkey or other main course and all of the sides that come with it in anticipation of the big day. In many cases, strict timelines may lead to fast-paced cooking, or distractions can take place, all of which may lead to injuries in the kitchen.

One of the most common injuries that people are likely to experience because of the hazardous cooking environment is burns. Whether a burn results from touching the oven or spilled oil from a deep fryer, minor to severe burns can occur in several ways.

2. Food Poisoning

One cause of illness on Thanksgiving is food poisoning from improperly prepared food. Food poisoning may result from undercooked meals, but it can also result from spoilage as leftovers sit throughout the night. Oftentimes, people at home attempt to speed up the cooking process and, subsequently, neglect to let the food cook fully before serving. This is why food poisoning is one of the biggest reasons ER visits spike on Thanksgiving Day.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), it’s important to ensure the turkey is fully thawed prior to cooking. During the cooking process, the oven temperature should be at least 325 degrees Fahrenheit to kill all bacteria that might be present in the turkey. Properly cooking all food before serving can greatly reduce the chances of food poisoning. It’s also important to avoid eating spoiled leftovers in the days following the holiday.

3. Alcohol-Related Incidents

Many people tend to celebrate Thanksgiving by imbibing alcoholic beverages. Whether to complement the festivities or to alleviate stress, people may overdo it when it comes to consuming alcohol. Over the course of the day and evening, an individual may forget how many drinks he or she has consumed and continue to drink.

Unfortunately, drinking too much frequently leads to injury or illness on Thanksgiving. Some incidents involve motor vehicle accidents that result from intoxicated people driving home or elsewhere after drinking, while others may involve alcohol poisoning from simply consuming too much alcohol. When drinking during the holidays, it’s always best to drink responsibly and avoid operating a vehicle at any point after the festivities begin.

4. Knife Injuries

In addition to cooking, working in the kitchen also entails the use of knives and other sharp utensils to prepare food. Working with these tools can lead to various knife injuries due to distractions or a fast-paced environment. Some knife wounds may be minor, but others are often severe enough to lead to an ER visit. It’s necessary to practice care when handling knives and other items in the kitchen.

When cutting any food items, it’s important to take time to make sure the task is completed safely. The process of carving the turkey should also be devoid of distractions. Taking extra care when slicing or cutting can ultimately save a trip to the emergency room and keep the festivities going.

5. Overeating

People frequently eat huge quantities of food on Thanksgiving Day, with many viewing that as the central task to complete during this food-centric holiday. However, overeating can cause certain problems that eventually lead to an ER visit. While overeating itself isn’t typically dangerous and won’t lead to life-threatening situations, many people tend to experience heartburn and indigestion following large meals.

As a result of these potentially frightening symptoms, an individual who has overeaten may mistakenly believe that he or she is suffering from a heart attack or another serious condition. This may lead the person to make an unnecessary trip to the emergency room, which can make the rest of the day unpleasant and accumulate costly medical bills.

These illnesses and injuries lead to thousands of ER visits every year on Thanksgiving Day, many of which are avoidable by taking the necessary precautions while cooking, serving, and enjoying meals and celebrations. A person can remain safe throughout the holidays if he or she remains attentive in the kitchen, avoids drinking too much, eats responsibly, and practices other safe habits while celebrating with loved ones.