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The Most Common Thanksgiving Accidents and Injuries

The Most Common Thanksgiving Accidents and Injuries


Thanksgiving in 2020 doesn’t look like any Thanksgiving in recent history. With many families choosing to stay home and share virtual dinners with their distant relatives, the typical Thanksgiving accidents might seem less likely.

But Thanksgiving is widely celebrated, and that tradition will carry on, even through the coronavirus pandemic, and so will the most common Thanksgiving accidents and injuries. Whether it’s inexperienced cooks trying out a fried turkey for the first time or the millions of Americans still traveling, despite the warnings, this Thanksgiving carries all the risks normally associated with the holiday, plus some additional worries to consider.

If you’re staying home and cooking a big meal for the first time, travelling to visit family, or starting a new tradition, here are the accidents and injuries to be aware of this year.

Fire-Related Injuries and Grease Burns 

It’s not surprising that cooking-related accidents and injuries are more common on Thanksgiving than any other day of the year. And included in that list is fire. The biggest culprit of cooking fires on Thanksgiving is the turkey fryer, which leads to $15 million in property damage each year.

Turkey fryers need to be used properly, which requires constant supervision outdoors and according to the fryer instructions. A little, or a lot, of alcohol and uncomfortable weather means that turkey fryer fires and accidents are bound to happen.

Outside of the turkey fryer, ovens and other equipment make the kitchen a dangerous place on Thanksgiving, and unattended equipment in the kitchen causes the most cooking fires of any day of the year.

If you’re a novice cook, make sure to read all the instructions for any new piece of equipment you’re using. If the instructions say to not leave the equipment unattended, then take it seriously. This might require some planning on your part and a lot of patience, but avoiding a house fire or serious injury is worth it.

Food Poisoning  

Another food-related accident that occurs on Thanksgiving is food poisoning. Typically, this occurs because food gets left out on counters or at the dinner table for an unsafe period of time and then gets consumed. Food that’s been left to sit out will grow bacteria and is unsafe to eat, even after reheating.

And this year, with more novice cooks in the kitchen, food might not get properly cooked in the first place. Turkeys can be tricky to cook, requiring more time than a beginner cook might realize, especially if it hasn’t been properly thawed. Between distractions, alcohol consumption, and inexperience, food poisoning is high-risk on this food-based holiday.

If you’re cooking at home, be sure to follow the USDA’s food safety guidelines. You’ll need to be aware of the ingredients you’re using and make sure that everything is cooked properly, not left out beyond the recommended time, stored properly, and reheated to the appropriate temperature.

And if you’re one of the 10% of Americans who plan to eat at a restaurant this Thanksgiving, food poisoning is still a risk. Though restaurants in many states are still under strict guidelines, the increased demand on the kitchen means mistakes can happen. Remember, restaurants have a legal obligation to provide safe food to their customers. 

Car Accidents

When you think of the deadliest holiday for traffic accidents, what comes to mind? Perhaps heavy drinking holidays like New Year’s Eve or St. Patrick’s Day? Turns out, Thanksgiving is the deadliest. This is, in part, because of the increased congestion on the road with many travelling at the same time.

And COVID-19 won’t necessarily lead to a reduction in traffic. 56% of Americans still plan on traveling, and many are avoiding air travel, which could potentially mean more automobile travel. That’s approximately 50 million people on the road.

To stay safe this Thanksgiving, the best advice is to not travel. With the increased risk of coronavirus transmission, avoiding travel is your safest bet. But, if you’re going to travel this year, do it safely. Don’t rush. Avoid high traffic times, if possible. And, if you’ve been drinking, don’t drive.

Slip and Fall Injuries 

Food-related and travel-related accidents and injuries might seem obvious on Thanksgiving, but one category of accidents that most people don’t consider is slip and fall injuries. These are common injuries for a few different reasons.

At home, as we’ve discussed with the other accidents and injuries previously mentioned, distractions and alcohol lead to accidents. And if you have more people in your home than usual or even just more activity in the kitchen, slips and falls can occur.

But, in stores is where the real danger for slip and fall occurs. Before Thanksgiving, and often on the day of, there’s increased foot traffic in grocery stores. And, of course, the day after Thanksgiving is historically the busiest retail holiday of the year. Though many stores are trying to mitigate this foot traffic due to the coronavirus pandemic, there will inevitably be crowded stores this Black Friday.

Businesses have an obligation to keep you safe, even with increased crowds. Measures should be in place to quickly attend to spills and lessen the amount of crowded spaces. But if you or a loved one slips and falls in a store this holiday season; we can represent you. We offer full representation, and we aren’t afraid to go to trial against negligent businesses.  

If you’re injured on Thanksgiving in an accident, in a store, or because of faulty equipment and want to know your options, contact us for a free consultation.