The kitchen is where you create delicious food for your family, but it can also be a dangerous place. Not only are you working on hot surfaces and with boiling liquid, but you are handling sharp knives and utensils that can cause injuries in the blink of an eye. To help prevent accidents in your kitchen, let's review a few essential safety tips.
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Keep Kids and Pets Out
As a general rule, children and pets do not belong in the kitchen. Unless the kids are helping you or learning how to cook, it's best to keep them out of the area. It's also not a good idea to hold a baby or child while you are cooking.
Kids and pets can be a distraction, causing you to lose your concentration at the most inopportune times. Beyond that, they can easily hurt themselves by getting into raw food or pulling hot pots down. They're also a tripping hazard while you're carrying something heavy.
When you want to teach your kids about cooking be sure to start with simple recipes that don't involve a lot of cutting, heat, or appliances. And remember to teach them to respect the kitchen. It's not a place for horseplay or fighting.
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Wear Shoes and Safe Clothing
You may not think about wearing shoes in your own home, but it's sound advice in the kitchen. Beyond giving you some traction in case you step in a spilled liquid, they can also protect your feet from accidents.
It's not unheard of for someone to drop a knife on their foot, which can result in stitches or even a severed toe. Adding a layer of protection with good, sturdy shoes can prevent accidents like this.
Make sure you are wearing safe clothes, too. Try to avoid sleeves that are long and flowy. Likewise, avoid wearing loose clothing or anything flammable. This includes synthetic fabric, which can melt onto your skin if it catches on fire.
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Rushing around the kitchen increases your odds that an accident will happen. Unless you're a pro, cut food slowly, do not run from station to station, and take your time when moving hot pots and pans. Saving a few minutes here and there will be negated if you need to make a trip to the emergency room.
Also, keep in mind that it's never a good idea to bake or cook if you are under the influence of alcohol or medications. When you're extremely drowsy, it's best to avoid the kitchen as well.
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Always Use Hot Pads
Keep a good selection of hot pads and oven mitts on hand. Always use them for any bowl, pot, or pan that has been in an appliance, including the oven, microwave, and with all-metal pans on the stovetop.
Many people forget to use hot pads on bowls they pull out of the microwave oven. Even microwave-safe bowls can get quite hot, and it's easy to burn yourself.
Additionally, if a hot pad or oven mitt gets wet, don't use it until it dries. A wet pad or cloth will easily transmit heat and no longer offers protection from burns.Continue to 5 of 15 below.
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Stir Away From Your Body
Boiling water is common in the kitchen, but have you thought about how you stir it? If you're not careful, water can bubble up and hit your hand. While that may not be too bad, the shock can cause you to jerk and send a spoonful or potful of boiling water flying. If it hits your skin, it can easily cause severe burns.
To prevent this, stir pasta and other boiling foods with a slotted spoon. Make sure the bowl is facing away from you. It seems counterintuitive, but it ensures that if you do make a sudden movement, the hot liquid doesn't splash toward you.
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Learn How to Use Knives
The sharpest things in the kitchen are your knives. They're a vital part of food prep, so you will use them all the time. That's why it's important that you learn how to use a knife and treat it with respect.
Knives should always be sharp. A dull knife can easily slip and cut. Take some time to learn how to chop and slice as chefs do, holding the food with your non-dominant hand, fingers curled under. Go slow until you are confident, and always pay attention.
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Know Your Equipment
The kitchen is filled with tons of appliances and gadgets that you need to know how to use properly. Always take the time to read instructions that come with appliances so you understand how to use them.
Never use an appliance that has a frayed cord, and keep small appliances dry and away from water. Let appliances cool down before cleaning them. And don't use an appliance for a purpose for which it wasn't created.
Be careful with the blades on food processors and blenders; they can be very sharp and can cut you if you just brush against them. Never use your fingers to release something caught in food processor blades or mixers.
Unplug your mixer before releasing the beaters or whenever you're trying to remove stubborn food, and always use a utensil, never your fingers. It's very easy to accidentally push the button and you don't want your fingers caught in the wrong spot.
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Clean up Spills Promptly
Cleaning up spills as you go not only helps save time when cleaning the kitchen but will help prevent accidents. Water, food, and grease on the floor will almost guarantee a fall.
Watch out for cooking sprays, too. If they are sprayed on the floor, the surface will become very slippery. The best option is to hold the pan you're spraying over the sink so any overspray will not land on the floor.Continue to 9 of 15 below.
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Know Your Limits When Lifting
Lifting a hot pot of boiling pasta is one of the most dangerous tasks in the kitchen. Consider getting a pasta cooker that consists of a strainer inserted into a larger pot. You just lift the pasta out of the water to drain it, instead of moving a heavy pot of boiling water from the stove to the sink.
Lift using your knees and back, and know your limits. Ask for help if you need to move or transfer something heavy.
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Watch out for Steam
Steam can burn just as easily as boiling liquid or a hot burner. When you lift a cover off a boiling pot, pull the cover toward you so you don't burn your hand with steam.
Be especially careful around covered microwaved foods and foods that have been cooked in packets. Open these packages away from your face, and remember to use hot pads.
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Learn How to Extinguish Fires
Always have a fire extinguisher handy in your kitchen, and be sure that you know how to use it before you need it. It's also essential that you know a little bit about different types of fires.
Never try to extinguish grease or electrical fires with water. Smothering a fire by removing air is the best way to put most out. Use a pot cover, baking soda, or salt, not water.
A fire in the microwave can be put out by turning the appliance off and keeping the door closed. A fire in the oven should be extinguished with baking soda or a fire extinguisher.
If you can't douse the fire in a few seconds, call the fire department. Fires can spread so quickly and can get out of control in minutes.
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Be Careful Around Stove Burners
Always keep pot handles turned away from the front of the stove. It's too easy to accidentally brush against them and spill hot food on yourself.
Never reach over a hot burner to another pan. Push back your sleeves when cooking food on the stovetop as well. And keep pot covers handy to smother flames.Continue to 13 of 15 below.
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Don't Leave Food Unattended
Never leave the house when food is cooking or baking, except when using a slow cooker. Even then, it's best to place your slow cooker on a cool stove top or another heatproof surface. Food can quickly go from browning to burning to bursting into flame.
If there are children or pets in your household, make sure an adult is in the kitchen at all times. Accidents happen in seconds.
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Stop, Drop, and Roll
It's also a good idea to review the basics of personal safety and fire safety with your family from time to time. Teach your children how to "stop, drop, and roll" if their clothing catches on fire.
It bears repeating that kids should learn to respect the kitchen, fire, and heat. Nothing in the kitchen is a toy.
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