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Unexpectedly cooking Thanksgiving this year? Tips on how to stay safe

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Plenty of first-time chefs will enter the kitchen on Thursday as coronavirus shifts around typical Thanksgiving traditions and celebrations, but that doesn’t mean it has to end in an injury-riddled disaster. Even if you consider yourself an expert chef, there are precautions you can consider to help keep you, and your loved ones, safe in the kitchen this holiday season.

Start out by familiarizing yourself with general safety guidelines regarding hot liquids, pots and pans. For instance, don’t place pots of hot food or liquid on the floor, especially if there are kids in the house, Dr. Nicole Bernal, medical director of burn services at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

She also advised against putting hot liquids near the edge of the table, or within reaching distance of toddlers and babies, as it can cause burns or serious injury.

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“Water heated in a microwave can cause a third-degree burn after five seconds of exposure,” Bernal told Fox News. “Soups and gravy can cause a more severe burn when spilled because the food components hold in the heat and sit on the skin surface causing a deeper burn.”

To that end, pot and pan placement while cooking can also play a role in maintaining safety while in the kitchen.

Handling hot items like pans, or baking dishes should always be done while wearing protective gloves or mitts instead of a kitchen towel, Bernal said.
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“It’s important to remember to turn the long handles of pots and pans inward,” Bernal said. “When they hang off the edge, they can easily get hit or caught on clothing causing hot food to spill. Keep a large lid near the stove if cooking with oil. If there is a fire, put the lid on the pan to put out [the] fire quickly. Do not try to lift or move a pan of burning oil.”

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And for those choosing to deep fry their turkey this year, remember to put the fryer outside, and not in the garage or inside another part of the house, “and never ever put a frozen turkey in a deep fryer,” she said.

Handling hot items like pans or baking dishes should always be done while wearing protective gloves or mitts instead of a kitchen towel.

“Heat transfers through a towel easily and a loose towel can catch fire if it gets near a gas burner or oven coil,” Bernal said.

Opening an oven, too, should be done cautiously. It is important to make sure the area is clear of children, pets, or any other unsuspecting guests who may be injured while the oven door is open and unattended, she said.

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And even with added measures, mistakes and accidents will happen in kitchens across the nation, but there are steps you can take to help mitigate the damage. It’s also important to know what signs to look for should the burn need medical attention.

“If you get a burn, remove clothing and jewelry from the area and run under cool tap water for 5-10 minutes,” Bernal said. “Do not place in ice water or apply ice, this will decrease blood flow to the injured areas and can cause the burn to become third degree, which is the deepest type of burn. It also makes the burn more painful when the area is removed from the ice water and blood flow returns to the area.”

If the skin is simply red and painful without blisters, it is likely a first-degree burn and can be cared for with gauze and ibuprofen to reduce inflammation.

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However, if the affected skin starts to peel or blister, the injury is either a second or third-degree burn and needs to be looked at by a physician, Bernal said. It is important to remove clothing and jewelry and run the area under cool water, but do not pop or remove the blister without first speaking to a physician, she said. At that point, a physician can instruct you on daily wound care to prevent infection.

“If areas of burned skin are blistering or peeling and [are] larger than the palm of your hand, call your physician to be evaluated,” she said. “If the burned area that is blistering or peeling is greater than four of your hands, then go to the emergency department. Cover the wound with a clean dressing and antibiotic ointment if you have [one] available. Do not put household items on the burns like mustard, egg white, toothpaste, or honey. This can make it difficult to examine the burn and can be very painful to wash off.”

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