Cooking is fun, but there are dangers lurking in the kitchen if you don’t pay attention to what you’re doing. Observing basic rules of kitchen safety is a good habit to develop. If you let your guard down, one slip can cause serious injury or accidents. It’s important to adopt a plan for kitchen cleanliness and have necessary safety equipment at your disposal. Here are some kitchen safety do’s and don’ts to practice in your home.
- Wear Shoes
Wearing shoes while you cook is always recommended. Ever drop a knife? Imagine that going into your foot. Ouch! Shoes will also protect you from other kitchen mishaps such as broken glass, splattered oil and hot water spills.
- Learn How to Extinguish a Fire
Cooking is the leading cause of fires and injurie in the home with over 150,000 residential cooking fires in the United States each year. Keep a fire extinguisher in your kitchen and know how to use it. A fire can get uncontrollable in seconds. Learn about different types of fires such as grease and electric fires. Never put them out with water. Instead, use baking soda or a pan cover to suffocate the fire by removing air. Typically, it’s best to use an extinguisher for a fire inside your oven. A microwave fire can be put out just by turning off the appliance and keeping the door closed.
- Keep Knives Sharp
A dull knife is more likely to slip and cut you than a sharp knife. For regular home use, a typical chef’s knife does not need to be sharpened more than a few times a year. However, you should hone the edge with a steel once or twice a week. Keep in mind that the quality of the knife, the amount of use it gets and the type of food you are cutting all factor into how often you may need to sharpen yours.
- Use the Right Knife for the Job
Always choose the appropriate knife for the task at hand. Using a meat cleaver to slice strawberries isn’t the best idea. Using a paring knife to slice a chicken breast into cutlets is also a less than stellar idea! 😉
- Wear Safe Clothing
Long, baggy sleeves in the kitchen are an accident waiting to happen, especially if you cook on a gas stove. Typically, tops with fitted sleeves or no sleeves are best. It’s also good practice to avoid wearing anything flammable or synthetic. When overheated, these fabrics can melt onto your skin. Ouch!
- Prevent Burns
Always turn the handles of your pots and pans inward to avoid someone knocking into them, spilling the hot contents and potentially burning you. Keep potholders or oven mitts close by. Never use wet potholders or dish rags because they will not keep the heat from burning your hands.
- Wash Your Hands…A lot!
We’re all washing our hands more often these days to minimize the spread of COVID-19. It’s important to wash your hands in hot soapy water before and after cooking. Wash during cooking after touching any raw meats or juices to prevent contamination and potential food poisoning. Remember to disinfect all your surfaces and sinks where any raw meats or juices may have touched.
- Don’t Use the Same Cutting Board for Raw Meat, Fruits and Vegetables
The FDA recommends that you use two separate cutting boards: one for raw meat, poultry and seafood, and another for fresh fruits and vegetables. Using the same cutting board can cause cross contamination and a nasty case of food poisoning. If you must use the same board, prepare your fruits and vegetables first and wash your cutting board with soap and hot water before preparing your meats.
- Always Stir and Lift Away From You
Never lift a pot lid toward you or the scalding condensation can drip onto your skin, causing burns. The same goes for stirring. Make sure you always stir away from your body to avoid splattering hot food on yourself.
- Never Set a Hot Glass Dish on a Wet or Cold Surface
Glass expands when it gets warm and shrinks when it cools down. This causes stress, resulting in a combustion of glass. This is why you should always set a glass lid is on top of a trivet, cutting board or potholder.
- Don’t Use Metal Utensils on Nonstick, Teflon Pans.
Metal utensils on non-stick pans can cause flaking or chipping of the Teflon and mix toxic compounds into your food. Always use wooden or plastic spoons.
- Never Hold a Bagel in the Palm of Your Hand When Slicing it in Half
ER doctors coined the term for BRI for Bagel Related Injuries because they see them so often. It seems so simple to hold your bagel to slice it, until things quickly go wrong and you’ve sliced through to your hand. Using a tool like the Rapid Slicer® that holds your bagel securely and keeps your hand away from the knife blade can save you a trip to the ER.