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Tips for turkey carving safety during your holiday feast

Nothing says the holidays quite like gathering with your family to share a delicious feast. Whether you’re indulging in turkey or tofurkey, ham, yams or pumpkin pie, there’s a lot of carving, slicing and dicing that occurs in the kitchen between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.

However, the one thing you probably want to avoid during this festive time is a hand injury.

“Every year during Thanksgiving, and well into the holiday season, people sustain hand injuries preparing their Thanksgiving turkey and holiday feasts,” says Dr. Christopher Grandizio, orthopaedic hand surgeon at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville. “Although these injuries can be severe, they are avoidable.”

Here’s how to safely carve your turkeys and roasts, without carving your hand along with them.

Turkey and roast carving tips
Carving your main dish can lead to finger and hand injuries. Avoid cutting yourself by cutting away from yourself – place your free hand on the opposite side you’re carving toward and don’t place your hand under the blade to catch the slice of meat.

“When you’re carving the turkey, keep your cutting area well-lit and dry. Good lighting will help you see where you’re carving and keeping the surface and knife dry will prevent any slipping,” says Dr. Grandizio.

It’s also important to keep your cutting utensils sharp– a dull knife won’t cut properly, causing you to force it, but it’s still sharp enough to hurt you. If you have an electric knife, it will be easier for you to carve your turkey; just keep your hands away from the sharp blade!

Always steer clear of using sharp cutting utensils, including the carver, if you’ve been drinking alcohol.

Post-meal clean-up
Holiday hand injuries aren’t limited to the carving utensils. After the feast is over, the clean-up party in the kitchen often begins – and includes washing slippery, soapy glasses and utensils.

Pay close attention when washing glass items, like wine glasses, and avoid squeezing a sponge with your bare hand inside the glass. Also, avoid digging around a suds-filled sink for sharp utensils.

Injury treatment
If you do happen to cut your hand or finger while carving your main dish or during clean-up, a minor cut will likely stop bleeding on its own by applying direct pressure to it with a clean cloth.

“Clean your wound and apply topical antibiotic lotion and a bandage. If you lose feeling or can’t move your finger, if the wound is deep or the whole width of your finger, or is still bleeding after applying pressure for 15 minutes, go to the nearest emergency room,” explains Dr. Grandizio.

Enjoy the holiday season! But if you do need care for an unexpected injury, head to the nearest Geisinger emergency room or Urgent Care in your neighborhood. 

Christopher Grandizio, DO, is an orthopaedic hand surgeon at Geisinger Medical Center. To schedule an appoint with Dr. Grandizio or another caring orthopaedic specialist, call 800-275-6401 or visit
Holiday hand safety turkey carving

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