It sounds cliché, but this is really my favorite time of year. I love gathering with family and friends throughout the year, but there is something extra special about visits around the holidays. Plus, who can resist all of the delicious food?! Unfortunately, cooking equipment is the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries. With that in mind, we wanted to take a few moments to share some tips to keep your family safe around the kitchen.
Stay in the Kitchen
You should always stay nearby the food you’re cooking, especially when it’s on the stove top. Consider setting up the appetizers in the kitchen so your guests can mingle with you while you keep your eye on the stove. Remember to set a timer when baking.
Young children love to reach up and grab whatever’s in their line of sight, so you should get into the habit of cooking on your back burners with your pot handles turned toward the back of the stove. Also, avoid holding children while cooking on the stove. Instead, place them in a high chair so they can watch what you’re doing from a safe distance.
Have a Clear Cooking Surface
Keep those holiday-themed dish towels away from heat sources. The area around your stove and any other appliances (think toaster ovens, convection ovens, etc.) should be free of any flammable objects. The outside of these appliances may get hotter than you think. Confession: a few years ago I melted a portion of the plastic bag from a loaf of bread on the toaster oven while making stuffing. The ever-present residue is my daily reminder to keep these items clear when the appliance is in use.
Kids in the Kitchen
Getting kids involved in cooking is a great way to help them explore new types of food and to make them a part of important family traditions. However, their involvement should be dependent on their age level. Young children should be involved in activities away from hot objects like washing fruits and vegetables or setting the table. Older children can be more involved in food preparation but should never reach above their heads to remove hot items from a microwave. Scald burns (caused by hot liquids or steam) are the most common burn-related injuries among young children.
Use caution when setting the table if you have very young children in the house, especially those who can’t yet walk and love to pull up on whatever they can find. A tablecloth or table runner hanging off of the table might be just enough enticement for a curious little one to reach up and pull.
For more child safety tips, visit: www.childrenshospital.vanderbilt.org/safety