A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Keven Moore: Let’s talk turkey — and the hazards of the Thanksgiving Holiday season

This Thanksgiving Day holiday is a day for families and friends to come together to celebrate and be thankful for our many blessings.

But it is also a day of many hazards where amateur cooks venture back into the kitchen in an attempt to work miracles as they begin wielding sharp knives and handling hot pots and pans.

Where on average many of us will gobble until we wobble consuming on average 3000-calorie dinner portions, and kids are banished to the kids table while blood pressures at the adult table will rise as some engage in uncomfortable political debates, causing many to self-medicate afterward by drinking a little a little too much wine to calm back down before driving home.

As the great philosopher Johnny Carson once said, “Thanksgiving an emotional holiday. People travel thousands of miles to be with people they only see once a year. And then discover that once a year is too often.”


It’s also a day where the Cleatus B. Dangerous’ of the world rollout those turkey fryers once again after they have sat dormant in the corner of the garage for the past 12 months. Cleatus will ask a family member to hold his beer while he fires up that gas feed flaming contraption to scorch the bird into a tasty submission. This ritual on average annually is responsible for approximately five deaths, 60 injuries, the destruction or damage of 900 homes, creating more than $15 million in property damage according to the National Fire Protection Association.

The fact is the Thanksgiving Day Holiday can be the most dangerous and stressful day of the year when you factor in the potential kitchen cooking fires, turkey fryer fires, food poisoning, burns and lacerations, allergic reactions, drunk drivers and all those lost-in-headlight deer standing in the middle of the highway leading to Grandma’s house.

Americans will consume some 46 million turkeys on Thursday and if the bird isn’t fresh or properly cooked, many of them also risk serving up a side of salmonella. Emergency rooms see a spike in visits this time of the year because of food poisoning, burns, indigestion/heartburn, heart attacks, domestic violence incidents, alcohol-related traffic accidents and overexertion from certain activities as playing football with the family.

AAA projects that 48.7 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home this Thanksgiving season, which is an increase of one million travelers compared with last year. This represents a 1.9 percent increase over 2015 and the most Thanksgiving travelers since 2007. The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, Nov. 23, to Sunday, Nov. 27.

But what really is of concern is “Blackout Wednesday” that occurs the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, which is also known as Drinksgiving. It is one of the biggest drinking days of the year and is associated with binge drinking since very few people work on Thanksgiving, and most university students are home to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday with their families.

Most businesses are closed on Thanksgiving, and there are high numbers of people on the road as they travel to spend the holiday with family members. The combinations of these factors make Blackout Wednesday one of the deadliest days of the year and where traffic deaths around Thanksgiving weekend account for more than 400 traffic deaths each year.

Thanksgiving Day is also the unofficial beginning of heart-attack season. For some, the stress of entertaining family members that they only see once or twice a year can be too much when combined with overindulgent meals and desserts which can be very dangerous for people with high blood pressure or heart disease. The consumption of large portions of heavy food and copious amounts of alcohol increases the likelihood of an emergency room visit, dude to “Holiday Heart Syndrome.” American Heart Association has shown that the chances of having a heart attack quadrupled within two hours of having an especially large meal.

Diehard football fans will further strain their hearts after eating that Thanksgiving Day meal if their favorite NFL team is playing, resulting in a 15 percent spike in heart attacks among men and a 27 percent spike among women.

Even pets aren’t even safe on this day of Thanksgiving, as veterinarians see a spike in visits from splinters from the turkey bones that can cause physical injury to the stomach and intestines.

Thanksgiving Meal1

Then there is the flu virus to be concerned with as well. Flu season may begin in October, but Thanksgiving holiday is a time of the year where the virus beings it’s nationwide tour with all these holiday travelers spreading the disease to all corners of the United States.

Another concern that surfaces every holiday season is depression. The National Alliance on Mental Illness, claim that 64 percent of people diagnosed with a mental illness report that the holidays make their conditions worse, increasing symptoms such as sadness, loss, fatigue and frustration which can lead to an increase in suicide rates to increase during this holiday season.

For my immediate family, we have had our fair share of stressful Thanksgiving travel trips and incidents like most families. The most recent incident happened about 4 years ago. I abruptly had to interrupt the start of our Thanksgiving Day meal, after I ingesting nuts from a cranberry dish purchased from a local deli. The resulting trip to the emergency room meant my turkey to grew cold on the dinner plate.

As young adults earlier in life with three very young kids, my wife and I made a conscious and deliberate decision to lower our stress level by staying home for Thanksgiving to start our own family tradition. We found that the stress level of having to plan and pack for a trip with three children was just too much for a holiday that was meant to be joyful and thankful. So we instead opted to enjoy the holiday alone with our children and I can say without hesitation it has ever since been my most favorite time of the year for me.

As you nestle into your holiday I would encourage everybody to slow down and recognize these hazards and take steps to avoid them.

We should all find this time to be thankful regardless of our status or issues that we all are dealing with because there is always something to be grateful for.

May the bounty of the season fill your heart and your homes and remember to keep calm and gobble on safely!

God Bless and Be Safe My Friend


Keven Moore works in risk management services. He has a bachelor’s degree from University of Kentucky, a master’s from Eastern Kentucky University and 25-plus years of experience in the safety and insurance profession. He is also an expert witness. He lives in Lexington with his family and works out of both Lexington and Northern Kentucky. Keven can be reached at kmoore@roeding.com.

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