No other room in your house contains as many dangerous items as your kitchen, and of all the activities you engage in while at home, few are filled with more safety hazards than cooking. These tips and guidelines will help you keep your family safe from common kitchen accidents:
Other child Safety Hazards in the Kitchen
When parents think about kitchen hazards, their first thought is obviously the stove or oven. Yet this isn’t the only potential danger in the kitchen. Here are some other hazards you should be aware of:
The garbage disposal
Kids can suffer broken bones or have a finger amputated by sticking their hand down the drain and turning on the garbage disposal unit. Be sure to install a cover over the switch so it isn’t accidentally activated, or disable the switch altogether if you don’t use it.
If you use glass bake-ware, it can shatter. There are at least 12,000 documented cases of people landing in the ER due to exploding baking pans, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. To prevent such accidents, follow these safety tips:
- Always set hot glassware on a dry cloth potholder to cool.
- Preheat the oven before putting the glassware in.
- Add liquid to the bottom of the dish before cooking meats.
- DO NOT place glassware on a burner or under a broiler.
- Never pour liquid directly into hot glassware.
- DO NOT take dishes directly to the oven from the freezer, or vice versa.
Blenders and Beaters
A 3-year-old girl was helping her mother make cupcakes for her birthday party. But as the little girl leaned over the food bowl to look, a few strands of her hair got caught up in the mixer. The beaters pulled more in, winding her hair so tight it ripped a clump off her head, resulting in a bald spot the size of her mother’s palm.
Blenders and beaters can also break little fingers that get caught inside them. So remind your kids ahead of time to keep their fingers away, and be sure to tie your child’s hair back every time they help you in the kitchen.
Toasters and toaster ovens
The lever on a toaster can attract the interest of children, and the slot on the top just begs to have something put inside, which might be a child’s hand or something that is flammable.
These can be as dangerous as a stovetop, but are often overlooked. It contains a burner which keeps a glass pot of scalding liquid hot for extended lengths of time, and thus, can be very dangerous. Keep your coffee maker far to the back side of the counter, and make sure that the cord is secured so that it can’t be pulled on. Warn children that the coffee maker can be hot to the touch. Also try to avoid making large pots of coffee that you’ll keep on the warmer for extended periods of time.
Small children have been known to crawl inside and become trapped in these. We’ve seen a few cases of children dying inside dishwashing machines.
Kitchen safety tips for parents:
- Make a habit of always cooking with the back burner, and be sure that all pot handles are turned inward. One of the most common burn injuries, and also one of the most dangerous, occurs when a toddler or preschooler wants to see what mommy is cooking and reaches for the pot handle, tipping scalding food or boiling water directly onto their face.
- Many parents go to great lengths to childproof their kitchen, but then have a habit of setting knives or other dangerous items right on the table within kids’ reach when they are using them. To avoid this, designate a high shelf or other special area that is inaccessible to kids as a workspace to place knives or other dangerous objects. Installing a simple, small shelf high on the wall next to your work area can vastly improve safety.
- Use colored electrical tape on the floor to outline areas around the stove, microwave, or food preparation area that kids are not to cross when you are cooking. Make sure it extends two to three feet out from the stove, so that kids are far enough back to avoid being burned by splashes or spills. It helps to have this visible barrier, so that if a child wants to talk to you while you’re cooking, you can gently remind them to stay behind the line. Keeping your food preparation area free of kids – especially those areas around the stove – can eliminate many common child accidents in the kitchen.
- When you take a tray of cookies out of the oven, or remove any other hot pan, be sure to place it in the middle of the counter. Many kids are burned after touching trays of food that were just taken from the oven.
- Keep your work area clutter free while you are cooking. Disorganization tends to lead to accidents.
- Try to avoid setting hot items on tablecloths, since kids might pull them over.
Kitchen safety rules for kids:
- Talk with older children about how they should always carry knives with the point down. Also give them this rule: when your hand leaves the counter, your knife doesn’t go with it. Many injuries occur when a child who is helping a parent cut food waves a hand in gesture or otherwise swings the knife around, catching another child in the face.
- If your child has long hair, always tie it back before they help you so that it doesn’t get caught in blenders or other equipment.
- Teach all kids to never try to reach and see what’s cooking on the stove. If they’re curious, tell them you’ll lift them up to see, but they should never try to look on their own.
- Talk with children about the dangers of setting anything atop the stove, even if they think the stove is off.
- Consider buying kids a set of landscaping gloves to use when they are helping you in the kitchen, and have them wear one on their non-cutting hand to protect against the accidental slice of a finger.
Kitchen safety resources for kids:
- Read your kids our safety books: What bigger kids can do and Is This A Toy? Both books discuss kitchen safety.