While holiday gatherings will look a little different this year because of COVID-19 public health measures, it’s important to remember there are still ways to celebrate, safely.
“Thanksgiving isn’t ‘cancelled’ this year; it’s always important to be thankful. The most important thing is to have close contact only with people in your household,” says Dr. Jerome Leis, Medical Director of Infection Prevention and Control at Sunnybrook.
He says that the next one to two weeks are going to be crucial in terms of reducing the spread of COVID-19 in the community.
“Gathering with fewer people is something we can all do right now to help get the number of positive cases down again.”
Some creative ways to stay connected with loved ones include virtual get-togethers, enjoying a physically distanced walk outside, and sending gifts or cards.More ideas on how to stay connected with loved ones during COVID-19
““Occupancy at our Burn Centre is already very high, and we’re concerned about needing to admit even more people this weekend because of burns from cooking.”
– Dr. Marc Jeschke, Medical Director of Sunnybrook’s Ross Tilley Burn Centre
While gatherings need to be smaller this year, it’s still important to stay safe while preparing a holiday meal of any size. Sunnybrook’s Ross Tilley Burn Centre (RTBC) often sees more cooking-related injuries during upcoming holidays like Thanksgiving and Diwali.
On the Thanksgiving holiday weekend last year, the RTBC admitted four patients who had been burned while preparing food.
“Occupancy at our Burn Centre is already very high, and we’re concerned about needing to admit even more people this weekend because of burns from cooking,” says Dr. Marc Jeschke, Medical Director of the RTBC.
Below, he offers some tips on staying safe while preparing a holiday meal.
“If we can prevent one cooking-related burn this weekend, it’s worth it,” says Dr. Jeschke.
Cut down on distractions to avoid burns
Cooking multiple dishes at the same time can be a challenge. Be careful not to overwhelm yourself in the kitchen – a brief moment of distraction can end in a burn from pulling hot items from the oven or a fire starting on the stovetop.
Avoid wearing loose, flowing clothes while cooking
“With loose clothing, you turn around quickly or get too close to the grill or the oven, and the clothes ignite. You then have a major injury for no reason whatsoever,” says Dr. Jeschke.
Do not try to deep fry a frozen turkey
Deep frying a turkey comes with several risks: you could spill scalding hot on yourself, or burn your hands touching the very hot pot.
That risk escalates even further if your turkey is not completely thawed before it goes into the pot of heated oil. The water inside the frozen parts of the turkey will turn to steam, causing the oil to boil over and resulting in huge flames that can set you (or your home) on fire.
Don’t cook or BBQ after consuming alcohol
“This is something we see all year round, not just during holidays,” says Dr. Jeschke.
Alcohol impairs judgement and can cause dangerous behaviour such as falling asleep while food is still cooking in the oven.
If you do suffer a burn:
If it’s a significant burn, call 911. While waiting for help to arrive, don’t put butter, vinegar, oil or lemons on the burn.
“The best initial treatment for all burns is cool running water. Don’t soak the injured area, just let the water run over it,” says Dr. Jeschke.