For many of us the home kitchen is a place where families and friends gather to share. Afterall, great conversations are only made better by great food. It’s also one of two places in the home where injuries are most likely to happen, the other being the bathroom. So, here are my best kitchen safety tips to make your kitchen a safer place for you and your family.
There are many ways to accidentally injure yourself in the kitchen beyond the basic cuts and burns. You can smoosh your fingers, pull a muscle, fall while reaching for something just beyond your reach, or even burn the place down if you aren’t careful.
The good news is that there are things you can do to prevent these injuries and stop some of them in their tracks after they start. Practicing kitchen safety is an easy way to prevent accidents and injuries before they happen.
Reduce the Risk for Accidental Cuts
The number one way to reduce your risk of accidentally cutting yourself is to keep your cutting utensils sharp. This includes knives, scissors, and vegetable peelers. While it may sound counterintuitive, a dull edge will cause you to increase the amount of force which increases the chance you will slip. If you slip, you run the risk of cutting yourself instead.
Beyond using sharp utensils, make sure that you are using the right tool for the job. Always push the knife blade away from your body, never towards it. Use a sturdy cutting board on a flat surface. If it slips put a wet paper towel under it to increase its grip.
Store knives and other sharp implements in a secure location. Knife blocks, magnetic knife strips, and drawers are all good options. If you have little ones with access to your kitchen, make sure these items are well out of their reach and locked away.
Reduce Your Risk for Burns
Hot water is just one way to burn yourself in the kitchen. You also have to consider hot pan, the oven and stove, and steaming hot water. While you can reduce the risk for some of these, others simply require being aware of your surroundings.
For the water faucet, adjust the water temperature on your boiler to be no hotter than you can handle without burning or scalding yourself. For most homes that is 120º, as it takes about five minutes of exposure at that temperature to result in burns. At 140º (the standard manufacturer’s setting) it takes a mere 6 seconds of exposure to cause a burn, which is especially risky with little ones around. If you aren’t sure how
When handling hot items do not use wet or damp kitchen towels to pick them up, as the heat will go right through them. Do not use kitchen towels to remove hot plates from the oven, unless you know they are heat proof. Many popular microfiber towels that are great at drying will also melt against the heat of the oven, melting right into your skin. Instead, keep pot holders or heat resistant gloves in an easily accessible place, within reach of your oven and stove top.
When opening the oven or removing lids from hot pans, stand clear of any escaping steam. LIft pans lids with the opening away from you to direct steam away from your face. Allow you ovens to clear the initial blast of heat before you reach inside.
Turn all pan handles away from the edge of the stove. Not only will this prevent little ones from reaching them, it also will prevent you from bumping into them as you move about through your kitchen.
Most falls happen in the kitchen because of a mess on the floor. Whether it’s greasy or just wet, clean up spills right away so they don’t become a falling hazard. Once I make a mess on the floor, I dedicate one wash rag to cleaning the floor in order to wipe up messes without wasting multiple paper towels. At the end of the day, that rag goes into the wash with the rest of the kitchen towels.
Not all kitchen falls happen on the ground floor. Others happen while trying to reach objects that are just beyond your grasp. Instead of climbing onto a chair or the counters themselves, it’s much safer to use to use a stool. If you are short like me, purchase a sturdy step stool and store in your kitchen for easy access, especially if your cabinets stretch to the ceiling.
When playing in the kitchen, you are literally playing with fire, especially if you have a gas stove. While fire and heat are essential to cooking, they should be kept under control at all times. You can prevent accidental flare ups and better manage them when they happen by being prepared.
Make sure that kitchen towels, pot holders, and other flammable materials are not left near open flames or hot burners. Do not wear loose clothing while cooking. When working with hot oil, keep the lid of the pan handy to use as the first line of defense in an accidental flare up. If all else fails, be ready to fight the fire with a household fire extinguisher.
Keep a Fire Extinguisher in the Kitchen
Buy a chemical fire extinguisher and learn how to use it!! I cannot express this one enough. If something in your kitchen becomes overheated and catches on fire it can quickly spread, putting you, your family, and all of your belongings at risk.
Once you buy that extinguisher, make sure it’s stored properly. Pick a spot that keeps it away from the heat of the oven or stove, but close enough to grab at a moment’s notice. It should be easily accessible. Do not select a location where it will be pushed to the back of the cabinet.
Read the instructions on the extinguisher itself so you know how to operate the one you own. The basics are covered by the PASS technique. Pull the pin. Aim at the base of the fire. Squeeze the trigger. Sweep back and forth across the width of the fire. If it’s too big for you to put out on your own, get out and call the fire department.
Be sure to check it every 3 months to make sure its in good working order. Replace your fire extinguisher if any of the follow is true: the gauge drops out of the green or full section, the extinguisher shows any sign of rust, the pin is missing, or if it’s past the expiration date.