How not to spend Memorial Day at the ER

Posted May 30

Memorial Day can be a fun start to summer with your family. It's also a great way to spend an afternoon at the ER. Here are some common injuries associated with the unofficial start of summer, and how to avoid them. (Deseret Photo)

Each year in May, the National Safety Council makes a grim prediction: how many of us will die in traffic accidents over the Memorial Day weekend.

Hazards lurk not only on the road, but in the relative safety of our own backyards. To keep us safe, STAT shared ways a holiday cookout can make us sick or send us to the emergency room, none of which involve cars.

Fly away. You may think twice about eating outside after learning what those buzzing flies are doing when they land on your food.

“House flies stick out a part of their body called the labella when they land on a potential meal — think of it as taking a free sample,” wrote STAT's Megan Thielking. “If they decide to chow down on a watermelon, for example, they’ll regurgitate a little of that sample on the watermelon along with some acid to make their next bites easier to digest.”

This means if you eat something a fly has landed on, you’re consuming fly vomit. Yum. Better keep everything covered.

Bac off. It’s wonderful when the supermarket tenderizes a cut of meat — assuming it doesn’t give you a bacterial infection. This can happen when bacteria lurking on the outside of the meat are pushed inside when the meat is punctured during the tenderizing process.

On the outside, bacteria normally die when the meat is cooked, but inside it’s more likely to survive to give you and your family E. coli.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has just ordered companies to let consumers know when meat has been tenderized mechanically, STAT said. Meanwhile, use a meat thermometer to make sure your meat reaches at least 145 degrees internally, and let meat rest three minutes after cooking before serving, STAT said.

Watch the sticks. Every year, people go to the emergency room after sticking themselves with shish-kebab skewers, Thielking reported.

Don’t be that guy. And if you know that guy, don’t get too close.

They call it grilling out for a reason. Besides the risk of fire, there’s another reason not to cook inside a garage or tent: You could get carbon-monoxide poisoning. You’d never do something that dumb, we know. But other people have, according to the American Journal of Emergency Medicine.

A problem that grates. Finally, though it seems like a good idea, buying a grill brush to scrub off the crusty residue of last year’s Labor Day barbecue can lead to problems. If you’re not careful, metal bristles may cling to the grate, and they can stick to your hamburger or steak, then ride down your esophagus and do all sorts of damage.

Since 2002, more than 1,600 Americans have gone to emergency rooms because of injuries from wire-bristle grill brushes, a new study said.

So, rinse and wipe well. Or just buy a new grate.


TWITTER: @grahamtoday


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