It is often said that the kitchen is the heart of the home. Families congregate in kitchens, talking, doing homework and coming together over meals. Unfortunately, according to latest statistics, a majority of injuries occur in and around the home, and the kitchen is arguably the most dangerous room in the house. Here are five tips to help make your family’s kitchen a safe place for kids.
Examine your kitchen from a child’s perspective, and store dangerous items accordingly. Knives and appliances should be out of sight and out of reach. Store cleaning products and chemicals in a locked cabinet outside the kitchen; keeping them in a room associated with food and drink invites trouble. Don’t store children’s treats in plain sight, which encourages them to try to climb to reach them, and, as much as possible, keep toys and books out of the kitchen so children know it’s not a safe place to play.
Keep cabinets and drawers locked and electrical outlets covered. Cover sharp corners, and add childproof doorknob covers to pantry or closet doors. Install a stove guard and oven lock, and use a baby gate to prevent young children from entering the kitchen during meal preparation. Be sure to have safety devices such as smoke detectors, fire extinguishers and first-aid kits in the kitchen and keep them in good working order.
Multi-tasking in the kitchen is a recipe for disaster. Never cook with a child in your arms, and never leave a hot stove or children unattended. If children are helping with meal preparation, choose age-appropriate tasks for them, and protect them with aprons and oven mitts when necessary. Instruct them in the proper use of all kitchen implements and appliances.
In addition to installing safety devices, choose a stove whose knobs are not easily accessible to children, and look for cooktops that do not use open flames. Never set hot items where children can reach them or place them on a table covered by a tablecloth children might pull down. Use care when pouring boiling water, and lower your hot water heater’s temperature to prevent scalding. Run dishwashers when children aren’t present to prevent steam burns.
Clean up spills immediately to prevent falls, which the ABS says are one of the most common events leading to injury. Practice careful food preparation, especially when handling raw meats and fish. Be sure food-prep surfaces are cleaned and utensils are sanitized properly. Stainless steel sheets are used in professional kitchens for their ease of cleaning and low germ retention. Furthermore, you should follow heating and refrigeration guidelines, and don’t leave prepared food sitting out for long periods. Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly before consuming, and wash hands before, during and after food preparation.
By taking a few precautions, you can make the room at the heart of your home safer for everyone. Teach children to respect the dangers of the kitchen, and practice constant vigilance when it comes to hot surfaces, dangerous items and preventive measures.