How to Carve a Turkey Safely

..Every fourth Thursday in November, hundreds of turkey carvers wind up in ERs across the county with wounds ranging from severed fingertips to cut tendons-and that's not including the thousands of estimated superficial nicks and cuts that are attended to at home. Whether it's you or a loved one breaking down the bird this season, follow these steps from Stephen Troum, MD, a hand surgeon in Bedford, Texas, and spokesperson for the American Society for Surgery of the Hand, to ensure the only red sauce that winds up on the table comes from cranberries.

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Perfect your point. "Always cut away from yourself," says Troum. "Cutting with the blade of the knife pointing toward you or a part of your body is one of the biggest predictors of a carving accident."

Stabilize smartly.
Need to keep your bird from shifting as you saw? Place your free hand on the back of the turkey, opposite the side you're currently carving. "When you place your hand below the knife or off to the side it's all too easy to slip and slice yourself," warns Troum.

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Protect your palm. A major no-no: Using your free hand or palm to catch slices of meat as you carve. "The knife usually becomes a little greasy, and people often slip through faster than expected and slice or puncture their palm," says Troum. Instead: Use tongs, or grab meat from above.

Don't drink and cut. "Drinking heavily definitely increases the risk," Troum cautions, noting that even a slight buzz can lead to the opening of a first aid kit. "Wait till it fades, or let someone else take the honor."

Get a good grip.
Nibbling on potato chips or other greasy finger foods pre-feast? Wash your hands before picking up your knife. "You need to have complete control of your carving vehicle," says Troum.

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Build a better base. All too often, dinner's shining star is set on a Lazy Susan, an unstable surface, or on a tray that's slightly over the edge of a crammed table, says Troum. "The table shifts, the tray moves, the turkey flies-and someone cuts a hand or a finger."

Designate a carving area. From extra family and friends milling about to last-minute cooking crises, there's always a lot going on right before the big moment. "Choose a space, like a wide section of the kitchen counter, that other guests know to avoid while the carver works," suggests Troum. "Outside interferences, like a bumped elbow or laughing from a funny joke, disrupt your cutting stroke and can lead to injury."

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Tell us: How are you staying safe this holiday season?

--By Jenna Bergen, Prevention

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