Burn risks increase at Thanksgiving

Burn risks increase at Thanksgiving

AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - Thanksgiving is a time for family, friends and food. But it can also mean an increased risk for burns.

For years, Dr. Fred Mullins of the Joseph M. Still Burn Center in Augusta has dispensed safety tips for Thanksgiving.

Don't deep fry your own turkey. Cook with pot handles turned toward the inside of the stovetop. Never leave cooking items unattended.

But if there's one tip that he considers the most important, it's keeping kids out of the kitchen.

"We have always advised people to create a three-foot kids safety zone around all hot surfaces in the kitchen," Mullins said. "However, in reality, that's probably not enough. It's better if children don't even set foot in the kitchen."

The medical professionals at Joseph M. Still Burn Centers, Inc., treat at least one patient every day that has some kind of kitchen burn. Most often those patients are children, and the burns are the result of hot water, whether it is coffee, boiled noodles or another scalding liquid.

"Burns are the second-leading cause of death in children, and scalds are the leading cause of burns in children," said Dr. Mullins, the president of JMSBC, Inc., and the medical director of the Joseph M. Still Burn Center at Doctors Hospital in Augusta. "Scald burns, depending on their severity, can require various levels of treatment including skin grafts and surgery."

Other tips for staying safe in the kitchen include:

  • Cook on the back burners of the stove, and make sure all pot handles are turned inward so children cannot come into contact with them. Appliances that get hot, like toaster ovens, should also be well out of a child's reach.
  • Turn off all appliances if you leave the kitchen, even if you are leaving for just a few minutes.
  • Do the most preparation and cooking on your own before Thanksgiving Day's kitchen traffic.
  • Keep items like potholders and food containers away from stove eyes and other hot surfaces.
  • Makes sure all appliances are being used appropriately.
  • Keep the handles of pots and pans turned inward on the stove.
  • Use timers to track cooking times.

Another common cause of Thanksgiving burns is accidents that occur when people try to deep-fry a turkey. The accidents usually occur when people over-fill the pot with oil. When the turkey is placed into the pot, the oil can spill over the side and into the flame. It only takes a small amount of oil on the burner to cause a large fire.

"We have also treated patients who were burned when the pot of hot oil tipped over and others who have been splattered by hot oil," Mullins said.

Staying safe while frying a turkey can be easy:

  • First, put your turkey in an empty pot and fill the pot with water.
  • When the water level reaches 2 inches above the turkey, pull the bird out and then measure the water level.
  • Pour out the water, dry the pot and then fill to the measured level with oil.

Among the other ways to stay safe while deep frying a turkey:

  • Make sure the deep fryer has a thermostat to regulate the temperature of the oil
  • Use care when touching the handles of the pot
  • The fryer should be used on a well-ventilated, level, outdoor surface.
  • Make sure the pot is never left unattended, and children and pets are kept at a safe distance.
  • Check the turkey to make sure they are not partially frozen and do not have any excess water on them. The water can cause hot oil to splatter.
  • Turkeys should be less than 12 lbs., and 8-10 lbs. turkeys are often the most appropriate size.
  • Use only peanut, canola or safflower oils in the fryer.
  • Slowly lower the turkey into the pot to avoid spillage.
  • Make sure a fire extinguisher is nearby, just in case an accident occurs. Water should never be used to try to extinguish a grease or oil fire. Always call 911 in the event of a fire.
  • Remember that it may take several hours for the oil in a deep fryer to cool.
  • Avoid excessive drinking when using a deep-fryer.

Of course, there's one way to guarantee you won't get burned if you have to have deep-fried turkey: Leave the cooking to a professional.

"Even if buying a professionally-fried turkey seems expensive, I can assure you it is far less expensive than a stay in the hospital," Mullins said.

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