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Saftey Article

Cooking Hazards

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11/01/2009 - I heard it said once: "My wife treats me like a Roman god. She gives me three burnt offerings a day!" In addition to food preparation, the kitchen can be a very hazardous place. Fires, cuts, slices, burns, electrical shock, food funk (bacteria), and other related hazards create exposures for us every day. Keep these tips in mind so you don't experience that outdoorsy, natural fire flavor from within your home.

The phone ringing, kids running (or fighting), dogs in the trash, or a good fight on an afternoon talk show can create distractions and hazards in the kitchen. Place pots and pans with handles turned inward to reduce the risk of knocking them or the contents to the floor where you risk burns and the aggravation of the "clean up on aisle four" syndrome – yet another time-consuming distraction.

Stay in the kitchen while cooking; don't leave anything on the stove top unattended. Keep "burnables" such as dish towels, papers, plastic bags, decorations, or curtains at least three feet from the burners. Don't store anything in the oven that can burn. Pre-heating the oven only to find flame shooting from it because you forgot to empty the contents is exciting, but it is not fun.

Wear clothing that won't drape into the hot burners while cooking. Do not place hot items just removed from the oven on the edge of the counter where children (or curiously hungry pets) can reach them. Use travel mugs with secure lids for coffee or other hot drinks if around small children or pets. A child's sensitive skin is vulnerable to burns much more than adult skin. And, since a child is smaller, a much larger percentage of skin surface is exposed and can be burned. This can create a serious life-threatening injury if burned or scalded.

Microwave cooking, although convenient, can also be hazardous. Removing hot food can cause steam or thermal burns. Children must be taught to use the microwave to keep aluminum foil, light-weight plastic, "exploding" dolls, small pets, and other foreign objects from being inside.

Keep knives, pizza cutters, and other sharp objects out of reach of children and place them in a drawer in a way that keeps you from getting sliced or diced, as well. Children and pets, such as my bulldog – low to the ground, stealthy, and always wanting to be close – create trip hazards if underfoot while you attempt to remove and carry your freshly cooked food to the table. Again, this cannot only ruin your dinner, but can also be very dangerous to the underling when your pot of hot spaghetti sauce lands directly on top of them.

These are but a few hazards to watch for in your kitchen. Purchase a kitchen-size fire extinguisher and keep it close. Check the battery in your smoke alarm. But mostly, buy more take-out if the kitchen creates high levels of stress. Keep yourself and your family safe in the kitchen so you can be safe at home.

Randy DeVaul is an internationally published writer/author and safety consultant. He is the creator of 'Safe At Home' (www.safeathomeonline.com). Comments always welcome at safetypro@roadrunner.com.

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