Kitchens are like the hub of the home; they are where all the action happens, which also makes them one of the most dangerous areas in the house. Unintentional kitchen injuries, such as burns and cuts, happen to people of all ages every day—and many can be prevented with just a little bit of extra care or attention. The following tips will help you reduce the odds that your kitchen becomes a scene of the disaster, so read on to learn how to prevent kitchen accidents from happening in your home!
Kitchen accidents can be dangerous, so it’s crucial to prevent them from happening in the first place! From being cautious with knives to taking extra precautions when cooking in hot weather, you can easily protect yourself from many of the most common kitchen mishaps. Here are 10 easy tips to prevent kitchen accidents.
10 easy tips to prevent kitchen accidents
Kitchen accidents are often the result of carelessness or distraction. Although they don’t always cause serious injury, they can be costly and inconvenient to deal with while you’re cooking, especially if you burn yourself on a pot handle or cut yourself on a sharp knife. To avoid unnecessary kitchen accidents and make sure your cooking space stays safe, follow these 10 easy tips when in the kitchen
1) Never wear loose clothing in the kitchen
Loose clothing can get caught on equipment or work surfaces and can pose a fire hazard. You should also avoid wearing clothing that has an open back or sleeves that may get caught in machinery or have exposed buttons or loose threads. When working with large equipment such as mixers, blenders, and food processors, you should wear long pants and close-toed shoes (or go barefoot). This will help protect your feet from hot liquid spills, avoid burns on your feet from countertops and equipment like ranges and ovens, and keep you from tripping over loose pant legs.
2) Always keep your hands dry when cooking
Some of us may have jobs in which we’re required to work with our hands in water, but cooking doesn’t count. Any time you’re handling food, keep your hands dry so you don’t get burned by steam or splashing water. Wearing latex gloves can also help you avoid burns while still keeping your hands protected from dirt and germs. No matter what method of cooking you use, always keep your hand clear of it during operation.
3) Use a designated cutting board
Kitchen surfaces can be a host to all sorts of contaminants, such as E. coli and listeria, and are very difficult to sanitize effectively. Always use a cutting board (wood or plastic) designated only for preparing food. Avoid using wood if you have cuts or scrapes on your hands, as bacteria can enter through these easily broken areas. Use separate knives: Using an old, dull knife is probably one of the easiest ways you can cut yourself in your own kitchen. This is not only because they’re less effective at cutting food but also because it requires more force and pressure from your hand, which puts you at greater risk for injury.
4) Clean as you go
It’s as simple as it sounds: Whenever you finish using a pan, dish, or cooking utensil (or anything else, really), wash it immediately. If you have more than one dish that needs washing, wash them together. It saves time and energy—and is an effective strategy for preventing cross-contamination. If water isn’t available when you need it (e.g., if you’re grilling outside or are living in a place without running water), fill a spray bottle with water and use that instead of letting your dishes go until later.
5) Keep knives sharp
A dull knife is more dangerous than a sharp one. For optimum safety, keep your knives sharpened at all times. This is an essential part of any kitchen, but it’s especially important if you work with a lot of products that need peeling and chopping. A good rule of thumb: Dull knives should be replaced and kept out of reach of children at all times. If you don’t know how to sharpen your knives, take them to a professional and they will gladly show you how. The tool doesn’t cost much and could end up saving you (and others) from injury or worse!
6) Learn proper cooking techniques
Any time you learn a new skill, whether it’s an instrument or a language, cooking being a good example of both of these, learning from someone who knows more is your best bet. There are plenty of classes and online courses you can take on cooking basics, knife skills, and general food prep that will not only help you cook like a pro but also have fun doing it. Check out sites like YouTube for videos about how to handle common kitchen injuries as well as anything else you may want to know how to do in your own home. Make sure everyone in your family knows how to properly handle knives too so they don’t accidentally injure themselves while they’re cooking with you.
7) Never wear slippers in the kitchen
Slippers can be dangerous for a number of reasons—they don’t provide much support and have a way of making you feel less inhibited about your actions. If you must wear shoes, make sure they have secure laces that won’t easily slip off or trip you up if you happen to slip on a wet floor. The best approach is always wearing closed-toe shoes, even if it means changing into them before cooking. You’ll look a little sillier than normal, but that’s better than getting hurt—no matter how tempted you are to put your feet up while preparing dinner!
8) Never cook while tired/exhausted
Fatigue impairs vision and judgment, leading to more mistakes and possibly more severe injuries. When you’re tired, you may not realize how close that knife is to your hand or how high that pot is off of the stovetop. So take a break if needed and avoid cooking after a long day of work or school. If your job requires that you cook for others, consider working with an assistant who can help ensure safety when fatigue sets in.
9) Wash your hands before cooking
It sounds so simple, but if you don’t wash your hands before touching food, they’ll be covered in harmful germs. When your hands touch uncooked food, those bacteria get transferred over to everything else you touch. This is a good habit to get into in general (especially when it comes to things like handling money or taking public transportation) but it’s especially important in a shared space like a kitchen. Give yourself 15 seconds for hand washing — and for bonus points, use an alcohol-based sanitizer!
10) Have an out-of-reach place for tools and appliances
Tools and appliances can make any cook’s life easier, but they can also make a mess of your fingers. If you frequently chop foods on top of your counter or have little kids running around, keep knives and heavy tools out of reach—either by storing them high in a cupboard or drawer (out of sight) or locking them away in an out-of-the-way safe. Most injuries that occur while cooking happens when someone isn’t paying attention. Keeping things off countertops will keep you safe without limiting your ability to cook at all.