Safety is priority number one when it comes to designing your brand new kitchen. More building codes cover the kitchen than any other room in the house. That's because so many accidents occur there.
Here are some suggestions when designing for safety:
- Use proper lighting. Good general lighting, supplemented with proper task lighting that's clearly focused on a work surface, can greatly decrease your chance of injury while preparing a meal. Also, the lighting should not produce any glare or shadows on the surface.
- Use slip-resistant flooring. Falling with a hot casserole or a sharp knife in your hand can have serious consequences. A slip-resistant material on your floor, such as matte-finished wood or laminate, textured vinyl or a soft-glazed ceramic tile, will do the trick. If you select tile, try using a throw-rug with a non-skid backing for added precautions, especially around areas that get wet.
- Keep a fire extinguisher handy. NKBA recommends that a fire extinguisher be visibly located near a room exit, away from cooking equipment and 15"-48" above the floor.
- Keep electrical switches, plugs and lighting fixtures away from water sources and wet hands. Building codes require that every electrical receptacle be grounded and protected with ground-fault circuit interrupters, which shut off the room's electric current if there is a power surge or if moisture is present. In addition, NKBA recommends that all wall-mounted room controls be 15" to 48" above the finished floor.
- Consider appliance lock-out options. Many of today's appliances, particularly ranges, ovens and dishwashers, allow you to "lock out" little hands so no one can use them when you're not in the room. This can be done either with lock-out covers or a programmed lock-out system.
- Regulate water temperatures and devices. Install faucets with anti-scald devices that prevent water temperature from rising to dangerous levels, or buy pressure-balanced valves that equalize hot and cold water. Faucets also are available that can be preprogrammed to your desired temperature setting.
- Find a safe cooktop. Avoid being scalded by steam from a boiling pot by staggering burners on your cooktop or have one straight row of burners. And never choose a unit with controls along the back of the appliance; controls should be along the side or in the front.
- Use the space safely. Think about how traffic will flow through the kitchen and make sure no one will interfere with your space when cooking. Locate microwaves 24" to 48" above the floor to avoid reaching to retrieve food. Slide-out trays and bins in base cabinets make storage items more accessible so you don't have to bend. And lastly, avoid sharp corners on the ends of countertops, especially islands and peninsulas, by having them rounded.
Reprinted with permission by the National Kitchen and Bath Association