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Kitchen Safety

Mother and Son in Kitchen

Slips, falls, burns, cuts, fire hazards . . . your kitchen is a likely area for accidents.  Use these kitchen safety tips to keep your space safe and functional.

Fire Extinguishers

A fire extinguisher is a must for every kitchen, but you’ll need to match the extinguisher to the type of fire for the best results. There are different extinguishers for different kinds of fire. Extinguishers labeled with the letters A, B or C denotes the type of fire they fight.

Class A extinguishers tackle fires involving paper, wood, textiles or plastics. The material inside smothers the fire, extinguishing it by cutting off oxygen.

Class B extinguishers ends fires involving flammable liquids, like grease, oil, gasoline and paint. They use two kinds of materials to eliminate the flames: one to smother the fire and one that creates a chemical reaction to stop the burning.

Class C extinguishers handle electrical fires, covering them with non-conductive materials.

Each extinguisher has a number rating, in addition to the class, indicating what size fire it can handle, so while some extinguishers may handle Classes A, B and C, they will have a larger size rating for one type than for another. Choose an extinguisher that is right for the types of fire that might break out in a particular area.

Shop Fire Extinguishers

Ground Fault Current Interrupter Outlets (GFCI)

Outlets in in the kitchen, especially those near the sink and water lines, should be GFCI outlets. These outlets work by monitoring current flow to protect people from electrocution.

Most local codes now require these outlets in new construction. But, older houses may need retrofitting. Use the “test” button monthly to ensure proper function.

Other Kitchen Safety Tips

Keep a first aid kit in the kitchen to treat minor injuries.

Post phone numbers for local emergency services, poison control and your doctor’s office in a place where family members, guests and babysitters can find them.

Eliminate hazards that may cause you to trip or fall, including stray step stools and storage boxes. Ask that children and pets stay in a different room while you are working. These simple steps ensure no obstructions in your path for safe and easy movement in the kitchen.

Clean spills promptly, including stray ice cubes that will leave a puddle when melted.

Do not wear long necklaces or loose bracelets when cooking. They can loop pot handles and pull pots and pans off the cooktop. Also, keep all handles pointed to the inside or rear of the cooking surface so they can’t be knocked off with an accidental bump or pulled down by small children.

Understand the use of your kitchen appliances and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use. Don’t let electric cords dangle from the counters; children or pets might pull the cord, causing the appliance to fall on top of them.

Know your lifting limits, respect them and invest in alternate solutions. For example, if carrying a pot of boiling pasta to the stove is too much, invest in a pasta strainer, which lets you lift the noodles from the pot. Plus, the water can cool for safer transport before you attempt to move the pot to the sink.

Respect your microwave’s power. Scalds and burns happen because people accidentally overheat foods in the microwave. Warn all users of the dangers and exercise caution when testing the temperature of microwaved food and beverages.

Practice Fire Safety

• Do not store cooking utensils or dishtowels too close to the range.

• Do not wear loose or draped clothing or synthetic fabrics that could catch fire quickly.

• Do not leave food cooking unattended.

• Tie long hair back.

• Use hot pads to protect surfaces and prevent scorching and fire hazards.

Practice Knife Safety

• Cover knives stored in a drawer protect fingers from cuts.

• If you store your knives on a magnetic strip, make sure the magnetic force is strong enough to hold them and that the strip is fastened tightly to the wall above a counter. Never mount your knives where they may fall on someone.

• Always wear sturdy shoes when working in the kitchen. If you do drop a knife, your feet are protected.