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House Safety Tour: The Kitchen

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03/01/2012 - The kitchen is one of the most dangerous rooms in the house. Aside from the potential of killing the family through burnt offerings, there are numerous other hazards that must be recognized in order to eliminate the fatal or injurious consequences.

The most obvious preventable hazard in the kitchen deals with food preparation, storage, and leftovers. Do not cross-contaminate uncooked meats with other foods (great way to spread the unhealthy bacteria). Cook foods to proper temperatures to ensure unhealthy bacteria are 'toast.' Do not leave cooked or refrigerated foods out for longer than two hours (again, the unhealthy bacteria see a pattern here?). Refrigerate leftovers quickly and be sure to reheat them to proper temperatures before eating them again.

Moving on, have a fire extinguisher in the kitchen with a smoke detector. This is not to make fun of the cook's skill but to ensure if something catches fire grease, oven-ables, dish towels next to toasters, etc the detector will get your attention so you can use the fire extinguisher and save having to watch everything you own burn to the ground. That is an experience I am familiar with it is exciting; it is not fun.

The floor can create slip or fall hazards from wet dishes, liquid spills, or simply leaving a floor-level cabinet door or drawer open and then attempting to walk past it with the casserole dish that just came out of the oven. In addition to the flowery speech that may loudly blurt out (did I say that out loud?), you may be lying in hot food with shards of 'dish' penetrating body parts.

Knives and other sharps, such as pizza cutters, create obvious hazards. If you have children or pets, keep these items out of their pathways. Be careful if doing dishes or removing these items from the dishwasher to reduce the risk of puncture wounds.

Scalds and burns are high on the list for toddlers and small children, though such injuries are not exclusively theirs. Pan handles and other utensils should be positioned so they cannot be grabbed and flung off the burner on the stove. Of course, you don't want to position them to where you have to cross over another hot burner or have the handles 'pre-heating' prior to picking them up. Pets are also on the scald list as they are usually under foot or close by when the pan or pot gets dropped.

Finally, consider what you are wearing with what you are doing. Loose or dangling sleeves, jewelry, or hair may make your fashion statement, but watching them melt while you are still attached to them is a painful experience. Ladies, engagement rings, particularly the stone settings, are reactive over time to cleaners, detergents, and basic knocking around. Your diamond may be forever but your setting is not. Show some care or you could ingest your diamond with that next mouthful.

Do a quick walkthrough right now and fix what you find so everyone stays safe at home!

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