Being in the kitchen as a family instills knowledge and skills for safe kitchen practices, which are essential to keep your kids out of harm's way. Below are some simple tips for kitchen safety while continuing to provide kids in the kitchen with some essential food & meal preparation skills.
Making cooking and kitchen skills more approachable and understandable for families and children is essential. By introducing these life skills and educating our kids at a young age about food preparation, they can gain valuable culinary skills and food literacy which they will build upon as they grow older. Going hand-in-hand with this learning, you can also impress upon them from an early age how important it is to act with care when cooking, as a dangerous situation can easily materialize if people aren’t careful.
This infographic from Pennywell (http://www.pennywell.ie/) is a thorough and informative visual resource on teaching safety in the kitchen. House fires are an obvious danger, with studies showing that almost half of all domestic fires arising from cookery-related accidents or neglect (National Fire Protection Association, 2016). Other dangers include burns from tipping boiling liquids onto yourself or touching extremely hot surfaces, cuts from using sharp objects like knives and blenders, and slipping on spills which may have occurred.
Adults often experience these situations themselves, which is why educating children about potential kitchen dangers can encourage them to always use caution when cooking and as they build upon their food and kitchen skills. Having safe kitchen habits ensures that everyone in the family is less likely to be hurt or severely injured in an accident that could otherwise be easily avoided. Cooking as a family can certainly be fun, and encouraging safe cooking at all times for both parents and children in the kitchen helps us to model and share safe food skills and practices that make creating easy, healthy and homemade meals more accessible and stress-free.
10 Essential Tips for Kitchen Safety
- Minimize distractions and keep your work area clear and accessible. This might mean asking the family pet to leave their comfortable napping location!
- Wear safe attire for cooking. This includes close-toed shoes to prevent injuries, in the event that anything should fall on your feet while cooking. Also make sure your clothes are safe for cooking or baking, and that they won't interfere with the activities you'll be performing (i.e. reaching over a stove-top, etc.), and ensure your hair is tied back (as necessary) and be aware of dangling jewelry.
- Use hot pads to protect your hands, and trivets to protect your work area from burns.
- Be familiar with basic knife skills. Learn how to use a sharp knife properly, and instill these skills into your children from the beginning. Also, secure your cutting board with a damp kitchen towel to avoid having it slip. When kids begin to learn how to use a knife in the kitchen, you can also have them use child-safe knives while they refine their skills. Don't ever try to catch a falling knife, and do not drop a knife into a sink of soapy water and then try to blindly reach in to retrieve it.
- Don't rush! When learning to cook, or teaching food skills to your little ones, take it slow and steady and plan to take your time.
- Minimize clutter as you are cooking, and always clean up spills and messes as they happen! This will avoid slipping, or having additional accidents occur as a result of slippery or uneven/unclear surfaces.
- Don't leave food unattended when cooking, especially something on the stove-top. Have tasks you can work on close by while still keeping a eye on what's cooking. Similarly, if children are with you while cooking, ensure they keep a safe distance from food that is cooking to ensure they don't come into contact with hot surfaces. Turn off appliances as you finish using them. Slow cookers are an exception to this rule, but can still be hot to little fingers, so ensure they are kept out of reach (far back on counters) from children while in use.
- Beware of steam, which can come quickly out of covered pots or pressure cookers. Children may enthusiastically reach for it when they see it, so make sure you caution them in advance. Steam burns are not fun, so fingers back!
- Clean your appliances and stove tops regularly to ensure they are free of debris and won't cause issues cooking or become flammable.
- Have a first aid kit and fire extinguisher in your kitchen, and know how to use them!
Thanks to Pennywell for collaborating on this post and sharing the Staying Safe in Your Kitchen Infographic.