As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, Byars Wells, MD, emergency room physician is reminding everyone to be vigilant to prevent injuries around the holidays.

“This time of year, we often see an uptick in patients with serious burns and lacerations in our emergency department. A celebration with family and friends can quickly become tragic,” said Dr. Wells. “The good news is that many of these situations are preventable if people follow the right precautions.”

Simple actions like keeping cooking areas clean and distraction-free, using oven mitts when handling hot items, turning pot handles to the middle of the stove and when using a knife cut away from yourself can greatly minimize the risk of burns and cuts while cooking.

Deep-frying a turkey presents an even higher risk. “When you deep fry anything you have to be extra cautious to protect against burns,” said Dr. Wells. “Boiling oil gets much hotter than water, and the water from a frozen turkey can cause a reaction when it hits the oil that sprays it in all directions.”

If you’re thinking of frying a turkey this year, it’s important to use a pot that’s large enough to contain a whole turkey and enough oil, and make sure that the turkey is fully thawed before it is submerged. Keep kids and adults away from the area, and have a reliable and safe way to remove the turkey without spilling the oil.

If you experience any burns this holiday season, seek medical advice on how to care for the injury properly to prevent lasting damage. “You don’t have to suffer a severe burn to call for advice, but signs a burn might be serious include skin discoloration, especially if the skin turns white or black, swelling, loss of sensation and burns covering a large area of the body,” said Dr. Wells. “If burns cover more than a hand-sized area or affect the face, eyes, hands or feet, definitely seek medical treatment.”

As people gather for Thanksgiving with family and friends, remember that everyone can play a role in preventing burns and keeping loved ones safe this holiday season.