The holiday season is an exciting, festive time of year, with Thanksgiving heading it all off for most. With all the usual staples of turkey, ham, fried foods, stuffing, and greens, this holiday centers around family and food and brings people together in a way beyond comparison to many other holidays.

However, Thanksgiving Day often winds up being a popular time for emergency room visits. Between undercooked food, deep fryers, and touch football games between families and friends, this beloved holiday can be a recipe for disaster. Here are some of the most common reasons for Thanksgiving emergency room visits.

food poisoning

1. Food Poisoning

This is perhaps the most obvious reason for illness on Turkey Day. Turkeys can take quite a while to thaw and cook, and people sometimes try to cut corners in one or both of those areas, leading to food poisoning and a very unpleasant ending to the holiday. Based on CDC regulations, a turkey needs to be fully thawed before being cooked, and it’s vital to cook the turkey at a minimum of 325℉ to ensure that all the bacteria from the raw meat is cooked out and killed.


2. Burns

On the subject of cooking, we know that Thanksgiving dinner can be a fast-paced cooking experience. It’s easy to bump up against hot objects or forget that you’re not wearing your oven mitts. Those who prefer deep frying parts of their dinner are at equal risk for splashing, spilling, or other accidental contact with the dangerously hot oil. Keep a fire extinguisher on hand at all times. Having some aloe available to soothe the more minor burns may also come in handy!


3. Cuts and Lacerations

Another part of food prep is using sharp utensils, which can lead to a variety of knife injuries if your attention is divided or you’re working too quickly. No matter what kind of schedule you’re working with, take your time while cutting those carrots and potatoes, and be attentive when carving the turkey! Your friends and family would rather wait a few extra minutes while you cook safely than rush you to the emergency room for stitches!


4. Overdoing the Alcoholic Beverages

Being with family can be both fun and stressful, and both are reasons for people to keep reaching for that glass of champagne or wine or the next bottle of beer. It’s easy to forget how many drinks you might have had while you’re playing games or laughing at Uncle Joe’s latest crazy tale from work. However, this can be dangerous not only because of the risk of getting too drunk, but because people will often still try to drive home or to the store for extra desserts in spite of their level of intoxication. This is one of the most dangerous times of the year to be on the road because of alcohol-related accidents.


5. Overeating

We’ve all probably done it once or twice. The food is so good, and there’s just so much of it that it’s hard not to convince yourself that you can handle one more bite of macaroni and cheese, one more slice of pie, one more piece of ham. Unfortunately, this can lead to serious heartburn and indigestion. While those symptoms might not typically be life-threatening, they frequently make people think they’re experiencing the beginnings of a heart attack. This typically ends in an unnecessary and costly trip to the emergency department, only to have the emergency physician recommend an antacid.


6. Overexertion

Whether you’re the host of the dinner and struggling to run around and get everything ready for the family or the guests playing football out in the backyard, overexertion is a serious risk on Thanksgiving Day. Generally speaking, these activities are more of a risk to those with heart problems, asthma, or other health issues that are exacerbated by exertion, but it’s best not to push yourself too hard regardless.

domestic violence

7. Domestic Violence

Unfortunately, the holidays are not always a time for cheer and pleasant memories. Because it’s also such a stressful time, fights between family members tend to break out fairly frequently during this time of year, and a lot of those fights end in a trip to the emergency room. There’s not always a way to keep these kinds of arguments from occurring, but keeping stress and access to alcohol limited may help prevent any reasons for Thanksgiving emergency room visits.

These are all issues that can be avoided when the right steps are taken. Be careful with sharp utensils, make sure all food is thoroughly cooked, and practice moderation for everything from alcohol to food to physical activity! Help each other out to limit stress, and Thanksgiving Day can be a wonderful memory in the making.

No matter the emergency, no matter the hour, trust Village Emergency Centers to provide the very best in medical care. Our River Oaks emergency room, Katy emergency room, and Clear Creek emergency room are well equipped to assist you at any moment’s notice. At Village Emergency Centers, our mission is to provide you and your loved ones with quality medical emergency care. From everyone at Village Emergency Centers, we wish you a happy and safe Thanksgiving!