Burns, cuts, fires, and falls—nobody’s idea of a good time. Yet, they are prevalent threats in any kitchen. Since the kitchen is the number one location for these accidents, it’s important to always keep safety in mind. You can do this by keeping pets and other tripping hazards out of the kitchen. Be sure to clean up spills right away. Use hot pads that are a good size for your hands and appropriate thickness for the job. Ensure that all heat sources, stovetops, small appliances, and ovens are turned off when you are done cooking. Use only sturdy step ladders and watch your balance.
Even with these safeguards in place, sometimes the inevitable occurs. (They are called accidents for a reason.) Even though you may not be able to always prevent kitchen accidents, you can prepare for when they occur.
Create a First Aid Kit
Your kitchen first aid kit will be filled with items specific to common kitchen injuries. You will want to have bandages in a variety of sizes. Also include burn cream, gauze and tape, scissors, aspirin in case of a heart attack, instant cold packs, and the emergency phone numbers of your doctor, neighbors, family members, and friends.
Fires happen in a flash. You turn your back to rinse a dish and return to flames. The ability to act quickly is pivotal in making the difference between a pan fire and a house fire. You should always have a fire extinguisher within easy reach. Beneath the sink is a good spot as long as it can remain in the front of the cupboard rather than getting pushed back behind other items. A better location is mounted on the wall or even sitting in a corner of the counter. If you decide to mount your fire extinguisher, make sure you drill the hanger into a wall stud or use countersinks so the weight of the fire extinguisher does not pull it back out of the wall.
In addition to a fire extinguisher, always keep a large box of baking soda in an easy-to-reach location close to the stove. When the pie drips over and causes flames in the bottom of the oven, baking soda will quickly defuse it. Remember that if there is any grease in your pan you do NOT want to use water to put it out. Again, reach for the baking soda or use the fire extinguisher for a larger blaze.
Also make sure that you know how to use your fire extinguisher. Twice each year when daylight savings time messes with our clocks and our sleep patterns, remember to check the batteries in your smoke detectors and read the dial on your fire extinguishers to ensure that they are properly charged. If not, get them recharged, pronto!
Response to a Fall
In addition to being able to put out a fire or bandage a lopped off digit, it’s important that you consider how you will respond to a serious fall. If you have a cell phone, keep it near you at all times while in the kitchen. Ideally, you should wear it in a holster or keep it in a pocket if you are home alone. If you have a home phone, place it in a central area of the kitchen. If you or someone you know are elderly and/or live alone, consider signing up for a Life Alert program for emergency response at the touch of a button.
Organize Your Supplies
The layout of your kitchen will help dictate the best place for your safety station. The most important thing is that it is handy, even if you have one injured limb or end up on the floor. This means making it simple to open, yet child and pet-proof. Consider mounting your first aid kit on the wall beneath a cabinet or placing it in an easily accessible cupboard. If children and pets are not a concern, place your kit in a bottom cabinet or mount it to the side of a lower cupboard so that it's easy to get to if you fall.
The kitchen is the most hazardous space in the house. By consistently reconsidering your kitchen safety, you considerably reduce the chances of getting hurt. However, accidents happen, so it’s important to give yourself the tools you need when they do. Plan ahead and be safe!