Avoiding Turkey Carving Injuries

As soon as the weather changes from summer to fall, there are quite a few things to look forward to. The crisp feel in the air, leaves changing colors, football season, and Thanksgiving! Mashed potatoes, yams, stuffing, pumpkin pie, and turkey are all abundant when family gathers around the table.

While the fall and winter seasons come with risks of hand injuries from falling while ice skating to losing your footing on a ladder while putting up Christmas lights. However, one of the greatest risks to you could come from turkey carving. Did you know that 88% of Americans eat turkey on Thanksgiving, and cuts from carving are one of the most common injuries on Thanksgiving?

At Ventura Orthopedics, we know the hazards of turkey carving and have compiled some safety tips for avoiding a puncture or laceration.

Turkey Carving Injury Prevention Tips

  • Keep your cutting area well-lit and dry to help prevent an accidental cut of the finger. A dry cutting surface will prevent ingredients from slipping while chopping.
  • Always cut away from yourself. One slip of the knife can cause a horrific injury. Your free hand should be placed opposite the side you are carving toward. Never position your hand underneath the blade to catch the slice of meat.
  • Keep all cutting utensils sharp. If your knife is sharp enough, it should glide through the meat without force. A knife too dull to cut properly is still sharp enough to cause an injury.
  • If possible, use an electric knife for the carving. Use kitchen shears to cut the bones and joints of the turkey.
  • Children should never assist with the carving, cutting or chopping.
  • Keep your knife handles dry. A wet handle can prove slippery and cause your hand to slip down onto the blade, resulting in a painful cut.

If an injury is sustained, elevate the hand above the heart and apply direct pressure to the wound with a clean cloth to stop the bleeding.

Seek immediate medical treatment if:

  • Continuous pressure does not slow or stop the flow within 15 minutes
  • You notice persistent numbness or tingling in the fingertip
  • You are unable to move the fingers
  • You are unsure of your tetanus immunization status
  • You are unable to thoroughly cleanse the wound

An injury can happen very quickly, which is why should always exercise proper care and caution when carving your holiday bird. Seek follow up medical care to ensure that the wound is healing properly and that nothing needs to be repaired. While most of these types of injuries are relatively minor, many involve nerves and tendons in the fingers that require complex surgery for reconstruction and months of therapy for recovery. In situations with severe lacerations, an orthopedic hand specialist will be brought in to assess the injury and check if a tendon, blood vessel, nerve or combination of the three have been severed and will determine if surgery is required.

To learn more about the best options for you or to schedule an appointment with one of our orthopedic specialists, call us at 800-698-1280.

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