How to avoid a Christmas trip to the ER -

How to avoid a Christmas trip to the ER

How to avoid a Christmas trip to the ER
How to avoid a Christmas trip to the ER

Dr. Sharon Thompson shares some easy ways to ensure you have a safe, happy and healthy holiday. “ERs are always busy, but over the holidays, visits go up by tens of thousands,” she explained. “This is across the nation.”

One of the most common things ER docs see is kitchen lacerations, Thompson told Gina Maravilla on the Christmas Eve edition of “Good Morning Arizona.”

It can happen to anyone. Thompson said she suffered such a cut herself on Thanksgiving.

Safety experts say you should be sure to keep your knives properly sharpened. First, you’ll probably be more careful with a freshly sharpened knife. Second, a dull knife requires more pressure to cut. Which brings us to number three; dull knives are more likely to slip.

You should be sure to slice away from your hand -- don’t saw back and forth -- and keep your fingers clear. A good way to do this is to use the fingertips of your non-cutting hand to hold the food. When they’re curled down like this, they’re out of harm’s way. The knife will be resting against your knuckles.

Don’t ever cut something you’re holding in the palm of your hand. Also, do not cut “freehand” over the sink.

Make sure to use a cutting board. If your cutting board does not have rubber feet to grip the counter, put a damp towel under it to keep it from slipping.

If you’re mincing, keep the tip of your knife on your cutting board.

If you do cut yourself, wash the cut and apply pressure to stop the bleeding. Also, raise your hand above your head. Apply an antibiotic ointment and a bandage. If the bleeding does not stop relatively quickly, you might need a couple of stitches.

“The other things, too, is simple food safety,” Thompson said. “Food poisoning is another big reason for those spikes [in ER visits].”

She said one of the best things you can do is use a food thermometer.

“You really want to cook those meats to the right temperature so that you avoid bacterial overgrowth,” she said.

Also, keep raw food away from cooked food. (How many times has something like this turned up as a violation in Jason Barry’s Dirty Dining reports?)

If you’re going to be on the road, do not drink and drive and do not let somebody who has been drinking get behind the wheel.

Do not allow beautiful light displays to distract you. Keep your eyes – and your focus – on driving and be extra cautious of other drivers.

In addition to looking after your physical health – don’t forget to wash your hands well and often – Thompson said you also need to be aware of your mental health.

Family a bit much?

“You can always go outside,” Thompson said. “If you find yourself feeling lonely or down, or not wanting to get out of bed, call someone.”

She mentioned the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) – and the National Domestic Violence Hotline -- 1-800-799-7233. (Click a phone number to call from this story on your mobile device.)

“There are folks on the other end of that line ready and willing to help you,” Thompson said.