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Disposable Pans Can Cook More Than The Christmas Goose

For no muss or fuss clean-up, a disposable aluminum roasting pan seems like a great way to reduce holiday home chef stress. But beware: Burn specialists say many such pans aren't built to handle the oversized birds or other hunks of meat on your menu.

"These pans bend and tip really easily, and we see the serious results," says Lenore Ammons, a head nurse at the Burn Center at Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C. On reason why this type of burn is so dangerous is that grease sticks to the skin and burns longer than something like water, which is more likely to roll off the skin.

Ammons and her colleagues were so alarmed by a 41 percent spike in grease-related burns they saw around the holidays in 2004 that they teamed with the local firefighters to create a cautionary video. (Warning: The burns pictured are tough to see.)

They also published their data in the journal Injury Prevention last year.

"What makes things worse, is that often the people who are doing the cooking –- older women — are least likely to heal well," says Burn Center surgeon Jeffrey Shupp. "If you're a grandma with a frail skin, and maybe diabetes, a grease burn like this isn't just painful, it can require amputation."

There's a simple solution, Shupp and Ammons say: Use a sturdy pan (check the weight it's designed to hold to make sure the bird matches the pan). And put a rimmed cookie sheet beneath it in the oven to make lifting easier and help catch leaks and splashes.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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