Everyone knows that the kitchen can be a dangerous place with hot stoves, electrical appliances, knives, and more. Although safety is pretty much a matter of common sense, there are potential hazards that are less obvious and don’t spring immediately to mind, and it would do all of us who spend time in the kitchen to review these important tips.
Here are a few to keep in mind to avoid a less than satisfying kitchen experience:
Never put water on hot grease or hot grease into water.
Water can cause grease to spatter and cause severe burns, so always allow grease to cool first. Also, disposing of grease into a trash can instead of the kitchen sink will help keep your drain and plumbing from clogging up.
Make sure your refrigerator and freezer are at proper temperatures.
Refrigerators are supposed to be set between 32 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and freezers at 0 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. Temperatures higher than this can allow bacteria to grow in meat, poultry, and fish that can cause food poisoning and even death.
Salmonella is not only a bad thing, it is potentially lethal. You can avoid it by NOT washing raw chicken before cooking. Cooking temperatures kill dangerous bacteria, but it remains on the cutting board or counter top and transfers to utensils unless you scrub them down with full-strength vinegar. This includes BBQ utensils when handling raw meat, poultry, or fish.
Once the food item in the BBQ is no longer raw, use fresh utensils to avoid contamination. It’s best to avoid raw eggs, but if your recipe calls for them, there are often substitutes you can use, or eliminate them all together. You can still make a great cookie dough from scratch, or even egg-less gelato, and they will taste great. Don’t worry, your treasured gelato ice cream maker will still create the best homemade gelato whether you decide to use the eggs or not! Even if you have eaten raw cookie dough for years, you are still risking serious illness from the raw eggs, and besides, it’s best to set a good example for children.
Leave small appliances unplugged until needed.
Blenders, home-sized non-professional meat grinders, food processors and mixers, etc. all have blades and sharp attachments that can cause injury to children. Keeping them unplugged also helps reduce your power usage and your electrical bill–something we can all benefit from with the current economy.
Keep a fire extinguisher accessible in the kitchen and near the BBQ.
Accidents happen. Some fat drips onto a flame and you can suddenly have a burst of fire engulf the stove. If this should happen–do not try to put it out with water! (Remember tip #1?)
Make sure everyone leaves the kitchen immediately and put a lid over the pan to smother the flame and leave it there until it has cooled. In the event of an oven fire, turn off the heat and leave the door closed. If a towel or oven mitt catches fire, a fire extinguisher is the safest and fastest method to put it out. If the fire is too big, leave immediately and close the kitchen door to contain the flames and always call 911.
Fires can usually be avoided altogether by paying close attention while cooking, not trying to multitask on the computer, or catch up on the soaps.
Take care of spills immediately.
Mom was right, spills are unsanitary and they can cause you to, well, take a spill. Also, that 5-second rule? Yeah, forget that. Any food that falls on the floor picks up contaminants from the bottom of shoes, pets, and ordinary household dirt and germs, and can be harmful. Play it safe and throw it out.
Keep glass away from hot burners.
Glass baking dishes are made for oven and microwave use, but not for cooking directly on burners. They can actually explode and cause severe injury.
Watch out for dangling cords.
Make sure that all appliance cords are in good condition, not frayed or torn, and keep them from dangling over the edge of the counter where they may attract curious little ones.
Keep children and pets out of the kitchen while cooking.
Unless children are actively involved in the cooking process, they can cause distractions, spills, and even accidents. It’s safer for everyone that they–and the pets–play elsewhere.
Whether you are well-experienced or a novice cook, awareness of kitchen safety will help keep you and your family safe and away from harm. Don’t be shy to teach these principles to young children as it is important that everyone in the home knows how to be safe–especially in the kitchen.
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