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Carve your Thanksgiving turkey safely

When carving the Thanksgiving turkey this year, consider this — around 88 percent of Americans eat turkey on Thanksgiving and cuts from carving are one of the top five most common injuries.

A deep cut or severed tendon would not only ruin the holiday dinner; but could mean week of healing. In order to prevent injury, keep some of these simple instructions in mind.

  • Never cut towards the body, one slip of the knife can cause a horrific injury.

  • The free hand should be placed opposite the side that is being carved toward. Do not place a hand underneath the blade to catch the slice of meat.

  • Keep all cutting utensils sharp. If the knife is sharp enough, it should not need force in order to carve. A knife too dull to cut properly is still sharp enough to cause an injury.

  • If possible, use an electric knife for the carving. Use kitchen shears to cut the bones and joints of the turkey.

  • Never let children assist with the carving, cutting or chopping.

  • Keep the cutting area well-lit and dry. Good lighting will help prevent an accidental cut of the finger and making sure the cutting surface is dry will prevent ingredients from slipping while chopping.

  • Keep the knife handles dry. A wet handle can prove slippery and cause the hand to slip down onto the blade, resulting in a nasty cut.

  • Lastly, should a cut be sustained on the finger or hand, bleeding from minor cuts will often stop on their own by applying direct pressure to the wound with a clean cloth.

Seek medical help if continuous pressure does not stop the bleeding after 15 minutes, if the injured person is unsure of their tetanus immunization status, if they are unable to thoroughly cleanse the wound by rinsing with mild soap and plenty of clean water, if they notice persistent numbness or tingling in the fingertip or if they do not have full range of motion in the hand or finger.

Despite these precautions, accidents happen. If you cut yourself and you’re bleeding, put continuous pressure on the wound. Go to the emergency room if the following is true:

  • Continuous pressure does not stop the bleeding after 15 minutes.

  • You are unsure of your tetanus immunization status.

  • You are unable to thoroughly cleanse the wound by rinsing with a mild soap and plenty of clean water

In the days following your cut, if you’re feeling numbness or tingling, or are having difficulty moving your fingers, make an appointment with a hand surgeon right away.

For more information or to request an appointment, please contact Dr. Patrick McDaid, M.D. at

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