While you are enjoying the delicious taste of your Thanksgiving turkey with family, others are not so lucky. It may seem strange to discuss safety during Thanksgiving but in actuality, Thanksgiving is one of the most dangerous holidays of the year. While the most dangerous holiday fluctuates, Thanksgiving is consistently one of the top three. Each year an estimated 400-550 deaths occur over Thanksgiving.
There are many contributions to Thanksgiving being so dangerous. Alcohol fatalities increase two to three times during the holidays. The Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving people may still be celebrating and this can include alcohol. In fact, some dub the Wednesday of Thanksgiving “Blackout Wednesday” or “Drinksgiving.” Violations generally jump 33% over Thanksgiving compared to the rest of the year. The excess of inappropriate foods for those with medical conditions may spike heart attacks and the rush of cooking Thanksgiving meals may lend to food poisoning.
Most holiday fatalities are road related. 60% of deaths stem from not using seat belts and 42% of deaths are connected to drunk driving. Most households will drive fifty miles or more on Thanksgiving. More people on the roads traveling further distances than normal, poor weather, improper use of seatbelts, lack of preparation, alcohol misuse, or sleep deprivation are contributing factors. However, keeping you and your family safe over Thanksgiving extends past traveling. Stay safe with these tips.
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- Use child seats.
- Buckle in (no matter how long the journey).
- Avoid distractions (yes, this means the cell phone whether texting or talking).
- Be cautious on the road. More vehicles on the road provide more reasons to stay alert.
- Plan ahead. Poor weather conditions can be disastrous. I.e. if rain is predicted, avoid submerged roads and drive slowly.
- Don’t rush. Speeding is a common theme in fatalities. Being an hour late to Thanksgiving is better than your family visiting you in the Emergency Room instead of scarfing down turkey. That being said; do not drive closely behind another vehicle.
- If you are impaired from alcohol, drugs, drowsiness, or prescribed medication do not drive!
- Have your check-up before the holidays. This includes vision which can be an issue driving at night.
- Be fully rested. Get a full night’s sleep and nap before a long trip. Studies show that shift workers are especially at risk. Young adults ages 18-29 and about 60% percent of men are more likely to drive when drowsy. Staying awake for eighteen hours is the equivalent of a .05 alcohol level. When avoiding a full day of rest the danger climbs to the equivalent of a .10 alcohol level. Most accidents occur between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m when the likelihood of fatalities is three times higher. Rest before hitting the road.
- Know the names of the medications you are taking in case you visit the ER. Keep the names written down where you can easily access them. No one plans to go to the ER but preparation can make a drastic difference in your health.
- Diet smart. This means if you are diabetic, bring insulin. If you have high blood pressure, avoid foods that will spike malaise.
- Use kitchen caution. Keep children away from sharp cutting knives and take note of piping hot stove tops and ovens. Prepare and store foods properly to prevent food poisoning. If you are pregnant, elderly, or a cancer patient, take special care to prevent Listeria in the kitchen. When cooking turkey take precautions to combat Salmonella.
- Do not leave food cooking or candles unattended. Also, check your smoke alarm batteries.
- If you are suffering from mental illness (i.e. depression, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, anxiety, etc.) surround yourself with others who will hold you accountable and support you. Holidays can be difficult when you are outside of your normal routine or are around triggers that may escalate mental illness. Suicide is always an issue and the holidays may remind those we love of the loss in their lives.
- Avoid addictions. It’s okay to ask your host to forego the alcohol at the party. Chances are he will admire your initiative to stay on track. If you are an alcoholic or a drug addict eliminate the temptation. Don’t surround yourself with others who may tempt you over the holidays and this can include certain family members. After all, you wouldn’t invite a compulsive gambler to a casino. It’s noble to prevent any potential temptation.
- Take care of yourself. This may go without saying but the holidays, especially Thanksgiving, can be a cess pool of flu germs and other bugs. Wash your hands. Avoid those who are contagious.
Precaution and planning are the keys. With these tips you are sure to have a happy and safe Thanksgiving. Enjoy the health and presence of your loved ones as well as the turkey and dressing.