Loyola Burn Surgeon Gives Thanksgiving Safety Tips | Loyola Medicine
Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Loyola burn surgeon gives safety tips to remember before cooking Thanksgiving dinner

MAYWOOD, Ill  - More than 4,000 fires occur annually on Thanksgiving Day as celebrants deep-fry or roast turkeys, boil potatoes, bake pies and more. The autumn holiday brings double the number of home cooking fires than an average day, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.

“Thanksgiving for many means extra people in the kitchen, close proximity to fire and hot surfaces, added stress to cook many dishes on a tight schedule, the manipulation of a large, heavy turkey and the use of sharp knives,” said Arthur Sanford, MD, burn surgeon at Loyola University Health System. “It is easy to get distracted and injuries can occur in a flash.”  Sanford also warns against drinking alcohol while cooking. “Intoxication and cooking injuries to adults are terrible, and often children are also victims and that is truly tragic,” he said.

The trend of deep-frying the turkey has caused a rise in cooking injuries. In the United States, more than 141 serious fires and hot-oil burns have been reported from turkey fryers over the last decade, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

“I have actually cared for a patient who tried to deep fry the turkey indoors, which absolutely should not be done in any circumstances,” says Dr. Sanford, an associate professor at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.  “And I cannot stress enough that the turkey must be moisture –free. A frozen turkey in hot oil is a recipe for tragedy.”

In addition to the pain of these types of injuries, an estimated $15 million in U.S. property damage is caused by deep-fryer fires. “Too many people spend Thanksgiving in the burn center or the emergency department when they should be home with their loved ones,” Dr. Sanford said. Loyola’s Burn Center is one of the busiest in the Midwest, treating approximately 600 patients annually in the hospital and another 3,500 patients each year in its clinic.

Sanford offers these holiday cooking safety tips:

  • Look for the newer fryers with sealed lids to prevent oil spills.
  • Keep the fryer in full view while the burner is on.
  • Keep children and pets away from cooking areas.
  • Place the fryer in an open area away from all walls, fences or other structures. Don’t overfill fryer with oil. Turkey fryers can ignite in seconds after oil hits the burner.
  • Never use the fryer in, on or under a garage, carport, porch, deck or any other structure that can catch fire.
  • Make sure the turkey is dry when placed in the hot oil. Slowly raise and lower the turkey to reduce hot-oil splatter and to avoid burns. Immediately turn off the fryer if the oil begins to overheat.
  • Never cook while wearing short sleeves, shorts or in bare feet. Cover all bare skin when dunking or removing bird.
  • Use long-sleeved oven mitts rather than potholders, and protect your eyes with goggles or glasses.
  • Make sure the turkey is completely thawed and be careful with marinades. Oil and water don’t mix and water can cause oil to spill over, creating a fire or even an explosion.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher appropriate for oil fires close at hand and be familiar with how to operate it.
  • Do not use a hose in an attempt to douse a turkey fryer fire.
  • If you do burn yourself, or someone else is burned, seek immediate medical attention.
  • If you are going to drink alcohol, do it responsibly during dinner when you can relax safely.

About Loyola Medicine and Trinity Health

Loyola Medicine, a member of Trinity Health, is a quaternary care system based in the western suburbs of Chicago that includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, MacNeal Hospital and convenient locations offering primary and specialty care services from 1,877 physicians throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. LUMC is a 547-licensed-bed hospital in Maywood that includes the William G. and Mary A. Ryan Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, Illinois's largest burn center, a certified comprehensive stroke center and a children’s hospital. Having delivered compassionate care for over 50 years, Loyola also trains the next generation of caregivers through its teaching affiliation with Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine and Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing. Gottlieb is a 247-licensed-bed community hospital in Melrose Park with 150 physician offices, an adult day care program, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park. MacNeal Hospital is a 374-bed teaching hospital in Berwyn with advanced inpatient and outpatient medical, surgical and psychiatric services, advanced diagnostics and treatments. MacNeal has a 12-bed acute rehabilitation unit, a 25-bed inpatient skilled nursing facility, and a 68-bed behavioral health program and community clinics. MacNeal has provided quality, patient-centered care to the near west suburbs since 1919.

Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic healthcare systems in the nation, serving diverse communities that include more than 30 million people across 22 states. Trinity Health includes 94 hospitals, as well as 109 continuing care locations that include PACE programs, senior living facilities and home care and hospice services. Its continuing care programs provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually. Based in Livonia, Mich., and with annual operating revenues of $18.3 billion and assets of $26.2 billion, the organization returns $1.1 billion to its communities annually in the form of charity care and other community benefit programs. Trinity employs about 133,000 colleagues, including 7,800 employed physicians and clinicians. Committed to those who are poor and underserved in its communities, Trinity is known for its focus on the country's aging population. As a single, unified ministry, the organization is the innovator of Senior Emergency Departments, the largest not-for-profit provider of home health care services—ranked by number of visits—in the nation, as well as the nation’s leading provider of PACE (Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly) based on the number of available programs.