Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks as we reflect on the past year, remembering our family and friends as we look forward to celebrations. The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing us to limit our social interactions to prevent the spread. We know the best way to keep it from spreading is by wearing face masks, washing hands regularly, and social distancing from each other. The medical experts at both Elliot Health System and Southern New Hampshire Health, who together make up SolutionHealth, ask you to refrain from big gatherings with family as we try to slow the spread of COIVD-19.

The holiday season also brings a greater likelihood of buzzed or drunk driving, kitchen and home fires, and distracted drivers and pedestrians amidst the darker evenings. So, our trauma experts have some safety tips to keep in mind on Thanksgiving!

Buzzed driving is drunk driving. Plan before you party. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for everyone ages 5 to 34 and one in three crash deaths involves a drunk driver. In the United States, adults drank too much and got behind the wheel about 112 million times in 2010 according to the Centers for Disease Control. Designate a sober driver, drink mocktails, or take public transportation.

Wear your seat belt every single time. Every person, in every seat, should be bucked up on every trip. Seat belts reduce serious injuries and deaths from crashes by about 50 percent (NHDOT Driving Towards Zero Deaths)! Don’t drive until everyone buckles up.

Drowsy? Don’t drive. Drivers who sleep less than five hours per night are six times more likely to be involved in a drowsy driving-related crash than those that get eight or more hours of sleep according to the Traffic Safety Marketing Group with the United States Department of Transportation. Get plenty of rest. If you need to, take a break and pull over to a safe spot off the road to rest. Don’t try to make it those last few miles. Take a break and drive awake!

Avoid a Cooking Fire This Thanksgiving

The International Firefighters Association says the greatest number of home cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving Day. The top causes are:

  1. unattended equipment
  2. abandoned material
  3. heat source too close to flammable materials
  4. accidently left cooking equipment on
  5. product misuse

Using a deep fryer? Follow these safety tips:

  1. Create a three-foot safety zone around the turkey fryer for children and pets. Fryers tip easily and can spill hot oil across a large area.
  2. Place the turkey fryer outside away from all buildings. The International Association of Fire Fighters states that when it comes to home fires involving turkey fryers, 41% occurred in the kitchen, 14% in the garage, 14% on the patio, courtyard, or terrace, and 13% on the balcony or porch.
  3. Don’t overfill your cooking pot with oil. Once the turkey is placed inside the oil can spill over.
  4. Make sure the turkey is completely thawed. If the turkey is partially frozen it can cause hot oil to splatter.
  5. Check the turkey fryer’s temperature often so the oil doesn’t overheat.
  6. Avoid scalds and burns! Use long cooking gloves to protect your hands and arms when handling the pot, lid, and handles of the turkey fryer.

Not convinced a turkey fryer can be dangerous? Check this out! The National Fire Protection Association demonstrates the fire dangers of turkey fryers in this live burn.

Stay Safe While Holiday Shopping

Going out to get a few things or shopping for the holiday deals? Don’t be distracted! Focus on what you are doing. Distraction isn’t just texting and talking on the cell phone, it can take many other forms. While in your car, it could be adjusting the GPS, putting on makeup, eating, or interacting with other passengers. As a pedestrian, you are distracted if you are looking down at your cell phone while walking, rushing across the parking lot, or interacting with others. Parking lots are riskier than you think! Over 50,000 vehicular crashes occur in parking lots and garages annually resulting in hundreds of deaths and over 60,000 injuries (National Safety Council). Make eye contact with drivers and pedestrians, don’t do two things at once, be aware of your surroundings, and hold your children’s hands.

Take the pledge of safety this holiday season, protect yourself and others by social distancing, not driving while intoxicated or drowsy, and avoiding distraction. Commit to be “present in what you are doing or celebrating” whether it be cooking, driving, riding, or walking. After all, safety is something to celebrate!