Carelessness While Preparing For Holiday Feasts Could Lead To An ER Visit

Jason A. Mungo, RN

Emergency Department, Candler Hospital

Smart Living: As the holidays approach, families and friends come together to celebrate. It is a joyous time but can also be a hectic one, especially for people throwing holiday parties. What dangers in the kitchen do they need to be aware of?

Jason Mungo: There is definitely a feeling of time constraint and trying to get everything done. If that affects a person’s attention, it could get them into trouble. They could suffer lacerations from cutting food too quickly or carelessly. Thermal burns from splashing grease or hot water often brings people to the ER. If people don’t clean up spills in the kitchen, their floors will get slick and put them at risk for a bad fall.

SL: What should a person do if they suffer one of these injuries?

JM: For both lacerations and burns, you want to clean and rinse the area with cold, clean water, and then dress it with a clean towel if possible. Don’t just grab a used dishtowel or dirty rag that happens to be the closest thing. With a puncture wound, the most important thing is to stop the bleeding by applying pressure. If the puncture is deep and the knife is obstructing the arterial flow of blood, it is actually better to leave it in until you are under the care of professionals. If you get blisters from a burn, don’t try to pop them. That increases the risk of infection. Don’t put butter or any kind of foreign substance besides cold water on it. Butter will only cook it…you’re just making yourself more edible!

Of course, if it’s a serious injury, have someone drive you to the ER if possible or call 911 and use EMS if needed.

SL: It sounds like there are quite a few dangers to be aware of when preparing for holiday celebrations.

JM: Yes, and we’ve only talked about what happens in the kitchen. People also should be aware of cuts from opening up gifts carelessly—we see a lot of dads come in who have really cut themselves trying to open a toy for their kids. There are also dangers of falls from not using ladders properly when putting up decorations.  Another thing we see often is food poisoning from parties where the food was left out too long or undercooked.

The bottom line is to slow down and pay attention to what you’re doing. There’s a lot of activity and excitement, but we want you to enjoy your holiday and not have to spend it in the ER with us.