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Tips to keep safe, healthy and happy this holiday


Thursday, November 29th, 2012
Issue 48, Volume 16.


WASHINGTON – The holidays are a time for family, friends, good food and good times. The nationís emergency physicians want it to stay that way and not become a memory that involves a visit to the nearest ER.

"We are prepared to treat you at any moment should you need it," said Andrew Sama, MD, FACEP, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians. "But we hope that by following some common sense precautions, you can avoid spending time with us and instead spend more time enjoying time with loved ones."

Food Preparation Safety

The risk of bacterial contamination can be high with any raw meat. Wash your hands thoroughly when handling uncooked meat and keep it separate from other foods. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the oven temperature should be no lower than 325 degrees and the turkey should be completely thawed before cooking. A food thermometer must register a safe minimum temperature of 165 degrees inside the turkey.

Itís best to cook stuffing outside the turkey in a casserole, but if you choose to stuff a turkey, make sure the stuffing also reaches a temperature of 165 degrees (CDC) to ensure there is no bacterial contamination. Refrigerate all leftovers.

Individuals with food allergies who have not prepared their own meals at home should ask about food preparation and ingredients to prevent unnecessary exposure and an allergic reaction.

One of the more common injuries that emergency physicians treat during the holidays involves knives – specifically carving knives that can cut fingers and hands. Be careful when slicing food, and more specifically, do not rush. More accidents occur when carving and cutting too quickly. Allow someone experienced in handling sharp knives to do the carving.

Burns are another common injury during the holidays. The kitchen can be a dangerous place, especially around Advertisement
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the oven and grill. Again, donít rush when cooking dinner, have a plan of execution and leave yourself plenty of time to get it done.

A special note of caution needs to be made for anyone who decides to deep fry a turkey. This can be very dangerous and cause serious burns and fires, especially if you have never attempted this before. Make sure to research the proper way to "deep fry" carefully and use extreme caution if deciding to deep fry a turkey.

Eating Safely

The key is to approach any holiday meal with moderation. Food is usually abundant, however for some, it can be too much, consumed too quickly. For those with medical conditions like congestive heart failure, kidney disease, high blood pressure, etc., excess of salt can be dangerous. Monitor your sodium intake and make sure you take any necessary prescription medications, as you would any other day. Consult your doctor if necessary. Eat your food slowly and when satisfied take a break and allow your body to process it. Eating too quickly can cause heartburn, indigestion and may create chest pain, which generally requires assessment.

Injury Prevention

Before or after the meal, itís common for many to head outside and play sports (football, basketball, etc.). Weekend warriors - beware! Many injuries occur in those not used to routine exercise. If you must play in a traditional game during the holidays, we recommend having fun and going easy and not overdoing it. Emergency physicians warn that itís important to pace yourself after a big meal and for those who are not used to regular physical activity we recommend reconsidering. We see many sprains, strains and fractures in those who try to do too much, too quickly. We also treat patients develop shortness of breath and chest pain from overextension.


 

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