Cooking is a daily task that is as familiar to us as eating! If fact, it is so familiar that we forget that it is one of the most dangerous rooms in our homes. Cuts, burns, food borne illnesses and falls caused 1.69 million emergency room visits last year. That makes kitchen safety a very important topic for all of us to consider.
#1 Where are sharp knives stored? In the kitchen! Always keep knives in the wooden block or carrier they came in or in a drawer away from the curious hands and fast moving bodies of kids. Never leave them on the counter when not in use. Always keep your knives sharp because a sharp knife works better and is safer than a dull knife that you have to use extra pressure to make it do it's job.
#2 Never wear loose clothing while cooking. Wide sleeves, dangling scarves, neckties, and bulky sweaters are prime for catching on knobs, pot handles or getting too close to flames.
#3 Dangling bracelets and necklaces are likewise easily caught on pot handles, stove knobs, or utensils used in cooking. Shed the jewelry before you begin cooking.
#4 Have potholders close at hand and always use them when picking up hot pots, pans and utensils that are hot. Some prefer to use a towel to pick up hot pans, etc. Just be sure the ends of the towel are well tucked in so they don't have a chance to catch on anything or accidentally dangle in the flame.
#5 Always turn pot handles away from the front of the stove. It's so easy to brush against a protruding handle and knock the pot off the stove or at least cause some hot liquid to spill.
#6 Defrost meat in the refrigerator, don't let it sit out for hours on the counter to defrost. Bacteria in meat and on counter surfaces can cause illness when eaten.
#7 Wipe up spills immediately. Water on the floor can cause slipping and falling with nasty results. Keep counters wiped up so there is less opportunity for bacteria to grow.
#8 Separate raw meat and poultry from vegetables and other foods. Raw meat and especially chicken can harbor salmonella and other bacteria that spread to other foods and cause illness. It's a good idea to have a set of cutting boards and specify one for meat and poultry only!
#9 Wash your hands before you begin cooking, after you have handled meat, poultry and fish, and when you are done prepping the food for cooking. You must use warm water and soap each time you wash. None of this quick rinse in cold water before moving on to other cooking chores.
#10 Have a fire extinguisher in your kitchen for ready use if needed. It should be one specifically for cooking areas so it can be used on grease fires.
These are the tips that I hope will get you started on looking at the safety issues in your kitchen. Remember to keep the floor uncluttered so you can move freely and safely. Pet cages, beds, leashes and feeding dishes should be in an area free of heavy family traffic and certainly not in your way in the kitchen.