10 tips to prevent common kitchen injuries

Friday, July 9, 2021by  PEMCO Insurance

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​For a lot of us, the kitchen is synonymous with comfort – some of our best memories happen there. But surprisingly, it's also one of the most dangerous rooms in your house, surpassed only by the bathroom (with slip-and-fall accidents).

GettyImages-1257647046.jpgHere's how you can keep yourself, your family and your guests safe from common kitchen injuries:

1) Be fire-ready. 

Most kitchen fires start within the first 15 minutes of cooking, according to the Everett, Wash., Fire Department, proving there's no safe amount of time to leave cooking unattended. If you need to step away, even if you think it will be for just a moment, slide the pan off the heat and turn off the burner. Keep a lid nearby when cooking with oil so you can quickly cover the pan and smother flames if a fire flares up (never throw water on a grease fire). In case of an oven fire, turn it off and don't open the door. Keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen and make sure everyone in the family knows how to use it. If the fire doesn't go out within 10 seconds of using an extinguisher, get everyone out of the house and call 9-1-1.

2) Make your stove fire-unfriendly. 

Don't allow grease to build up on surfaces, including the range hood. Keep towels, oven mitts, paper and packaging far away from burners. If you have a pot that will be simmering on low for an extended time (like a stew), use the back burner and set the alarm on your phone so you'll remember to come back and check it, even if you don't hear the kitchen timer go off. Always point pot handles inward so they're less likely to get bumped. If something bubbles over in the oven, clean it before using it again. Don't use parchment paper under the broiler, in a toaster oven or at baking temperatures higher than 420 degrees.

3) Don't overfill your deep fryer. 

Remember the oil level will rise when you add the food. Gently lower food into the oil as close to the surface as possible. Dropping it in will cause hot oil to splash or bubble more vigorously.

4) Beware of steam and other sneaky burns. 

Open lids away from you (rather than toward you or straight up) so the lid can shield your hand and arm from the steam. Don't use a wet towel or potholder to grab a hot pan. Anything wet will conduct heat rather than block it.

5) Cover up.

You don't see professional chefs in shorts and t-shirts because long pants and sleeves protect against splatters that can burn. Avoid drapey clothing (think loose bathrobe sleeves), ties and scarves that could catch fire if it they contact a heat source.

6) Wear shoes. 

They'll protect your feet if you drop a knife or spill hot liquid while cooking. They also improve traction so you're less likely to slip on a spill before you can get it cleaned up.

7) Sharpen your knives.

Dull knives require more force to cut, and that makes them more likely to slip and injure you. Never hold food in your hand while you're cutting it. Place the food flat-side down (or cut to create a flat side) on a cutting board to improve stability. Cut away from, rather than toward, your body.

8) Clean and store knives right after use.

It's easy to reach into a sink full of sudsy dishes and get jabbed by the sharp blade of a knife.

9) Close the dishwasher. 

Stumbling over an open dishwasher door when your hands are full is one of the most common causes of kitchen falls.

10) Install a smoke detector 10 feet from the stove. 

Opt for photoelectric models. They're less likely to false alarm over burnt toast or a steaming pot. Some models also have "hush buttons" so you can silence them.

Ready for more cooking safety? Check out these tips for grills and cookouts.

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