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By Granville Morse, MD

Nothing says Thanksgiving like a delicious roasted, fried or baked turkey. Most of your thoughts are probably around what kind of stretchy pants you should wear to enjoy as much food as possible. However, what happens when the chef or sous chef cuts their hand in the process of carving the turkey? Urgent cares and emergency rooms see a spike in knife injuries during the holidays from such incidents. To keep this holiday season safe, here are some helpful tips when carving a turkey:


  1. Always cut away from yourself. Your other hand should be in the opposite direction you are carving.
  2. Use a platter under your turkey to catch the pieces. Never use your free hand to catch the slice of turkey.
  3. Make sure your knife is sharp. If your knife is dull, you will need to apply more pressure to cut the turkey, which can increase the chances of slips. If you have an electric knife on hand, that is safest option because electric knives don’t require as much hand action.
  4. Make sure the handle of your knife is dry. You don’t want turkey juice on the handle causing your hand to slip. Keep wiping the handle in-between slices to keep it dry.
  5. Adults should be the only one handling the turkey carving.
  6. Use your kitchen scissors to cut up any bones.

If you do get a knife injury from cutting your turkey, immediately clean the cut and apply pressure. If it is minor, the bleeding will typically stop after 15 minutes of direct pressure.

If the bleeding does not stop after 15 minutes, or you are unsure of your tetanus shot status or you are unable to properly clean your wound, you should seek medical care. Visit an Ochsner Urgent Care for immediate assistance.