By Kathy Hubbard
“Accidents happen, my mother used to say.” And she was always right. After all, if it isn’t an accident it would be called an intentional and who would intentionally get food poisoning, or a sliced finger, or a severe burn or broken bone? No one, of course.
According to The National Fire Protection Association Thanksgiving Day is the most likely day for home cooking fires. There are actually three times as many fires on Thanksgiving than any other day of the year.
So not surprisingly, the NFPA says that you should stay in the kitchen while you’re cooking. Keep an eye on everything on the stove and in the oven. Keep towels or other flammables away from flames. If you deep fry your turkey, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter.
Make sure you know where the kids are. Children under foot can cause any number of potential accidents. Never stir hot foods with one hand while holding a baby in the other. Keep lighters and matches out of the reach of children. Don’t let them be alone in a room where a candle is burning. And, make sure your smoke alarms are working.
If you burn yourself, hold the affected area under a cool faucet for ten to fifteen minutes. Use a cool compress if you can’t reach the faucet. Do NOT put butter, any other fat or ointment on it. Do not put ice on it. Do not break blisters. Cover the affected area with gauze (not cotton pads) to keep the air off of it. That will reduce the pain. If needed, take an over-the-counter pain reliever.
But, if that burn appears charred black or appears dry and white it may be affecting all layers of skin plus the fat, muscle and bone under it. If you inhaled smoke, you may have difficulty breathing. That’s when you head for the Emergency Department or Immediate Care if you have someone sober to drive you. If not, call 911. Do not drive yourself.
Thanksgiving is also a big day for other emergencies. Be sure to wipe up spills immediately. Too many bones have been broken by slipping on a wet or greasy floor. Don’t wait for the dog to come lick it up.
If you do fall, and the pain is too intense for you to get up, have someone call 911 right away. You don’t want to incur more damage. While waiting, have someone put ice into a towel and put it where the pain is the most severe. Do not put ice directly onto the skin. If the bone permeates the skin, apply pressure with a sterile bandage, clean cloth or clean clothing to stop the bleeding.
If the victim feels faint, start treatment for shock by laying him or her down all the way. If you can do so without causing pain, elevate the legs. If the victim stops breathing, start CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). Be sure the stove is turned off before going to the ER.
Make sure your knives are sharp and out of reach of the children. If you cut yourself, clean the wound and bandage it. If it doesn’t stop bleeding, or if the wound is jagged and gaping, a stitch or two is probably in order. You know where to go!
Talking, laughing and not chewing properly can cause choking. That’s when a bit of food gets lodged in the windpipe. Call 911 immediately if someone can’t cough, breathe or speak. Give the victim five sharp blows on the back with the heel of your hand and if that doesn’t work wrap your hands around the abdomen and thrust upwards.
Remember the two-hour rule when it comes to food safety to prevent intestinal disorders. Keep hot foods hot and cold food cold and put the leftovers away as soon as dinner is finished. Do not store leftover stuffing in the turkey carcass. Freeze what food you don’t plan to eat in the next few days.
My mother also used to say, “Better safe than sorry,” let’s all be safe and have a happy Thanksgiving!
Kathy Hubbard is a member of Bonner General Health Foundation Board Advisory Council. She can be reached at 264-4029 or firstname.lastname@example.org.