While some may roast their turkey in the oven this year for the Thanksgiving holiday, others may take a more dangerous route — deep frying.

Byars Wells, MD, director of emergency medicine, warns cooks to be extra cautious around the holidays to prevent burn injuries.

“This time of year, we often see an uptick in patients with serious burns 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.”

Keeping cooking areas clean and distraction-free, using oven mitts when handling hot surfaces and turning pot handles to the middle of the stove can greatly minimize the risk of burns 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. Additionally, keep everyone away from the area, and have a reliable and safe way to remove the turkey without spilling the oil.

If you experience burns this holiday season, seek medical advice on properly caring for the injury 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, 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.

To learn more about Saint Joseph Health System or to schedule an appointment, visit sjmed.com