Kitchen Safety 101
Cooking can turn disastrous if you’re not careful. But good kitchen safety guidelines can save you, your food, and your day.
- Keep a fire extinguisher around. You should keep a fire extinguisher in or near your kitchen, but do not put it near the stove or heater. If you don’t have a fire extinguisher but need to put out a fire, you can use salt and/or baking soda to help you.
- Watch out for flammable materials. Keep such materials (curtains, paper towels, wood furniture, etc.) away from the stove or the heater. Also watch out for anything on your body that may catch fire; roll up long sleeves and pull back long hair.
- Have 3-prong grounded connections. Most kitchen appliances transfer electricity at a high rate and could be dangerous if not plugged in properly. In order to prevent frayed wires or short circuits, make sure your plugs have 3-prong grounded connections.
- Avoid electrical shock accidents. Make sure you stay away from electrical sockets and plugs if your hands are wet and keep electrical cords away from the sink or other sources of water.
Sanitation and Cleanliness
- Handle raw ingredients with care. Always wash your hands with hand soap before handling raw materials. In addition, dishes that were used to handle raw meat need to be washed with soap and water before being used again.
- Clean up spills immediately. Any spills should be cleaned up immediately, especially those on the floor. This will prevent slips and falls, as well as messes and future pest problems.
- Pay attention to perishable ingredients. Food that belongs in the fridge should go right back into the fridge when you are done using them. Do not leave food out that can easily spoil, such as dairy products and meats.
- Don’t germ up your food. Coughing or sneezing should be done away from any food and you should always cover your mouth and nose. Don’t forget to wash your hands right away before going back to cooking!
- Don’t get distracted. Casualness causes casualties. Don’t talk on the phone or try to multitask while handling hot instruments, like trying to pour boiling water out of hot pots. This can lead to burns and scaldings
- Be careful when washing hot dishes. Water running off of hot pots can still burn you and cold water on hot pots may also produce hot steam. Use warm water when cleaning hot pots or pans and point the pan at an angle so that any splash back or steam points away from you.
- Don’t leave oil in hot pans unattended. Oil is flammable and can catch fire with any heat source. When done cooking, make sure to remove the pan from the heat source. DO NOT add water to a pan of oil while the pan is still hot.
- Be careful when handling hot food. Taking hot food out of a microwave or oven, or off of a stove should not be rushed. Allow the food to cool if possible and always use gloves, towels, or mitts to handle hot dishes.
- Don’t panic. If yourself or your clothes catch fire, the first thing to do is to stop, drop and roll. Make sure you distance yourself from heat sources and if needed, you may also want to smother the fire with a wet towel. Make sure you remove any jewelry or clothing near the burn as quickly as possible.
- Evaluate the burn. Run cool tap water over the burned area but DO NOT use ice, butter or vaseline. Minor burns may only result in redness in the area whereas more serious burns will result in blistering and visible damage to the skin. If the burn is serious you should call 911 for emergency medical help.
Handling Sharp Objects
- Wait for blenders and food processors to stop completely. Appliances that have sharp blades, such as blenders and mixers, should be unplugged or completely removed from their base before handling.
Handling a knife:
- Cutting boards should be used because they help protect your counter and keep ingredients clean.
- Keep blades sharp and handles clean. Dull blades or slippery handles will cause slip ups and may result in injury.
- Always clean your knives with warm soapy water after each use and immediately return them to their designated storage space. Cooking knives do not fare well in dishwashers and leaving a stray knife around may lead to accidents.
- Make sure your knives are kept securely in a knife block or kitchen drawer where they may not be easily knocked over or dropped.
- Last but not least, if you want to be extra safe you can wear steel-toed boots when cooking to avoid becoming Sir Limps-A-Lot.