How to Prevent Cooking Injuries

From cuts to burns, the kitchen can be a dangerous place if you aren’t careful. Let’s look at ways to avoid cooking accidents.

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Preventing injuries while cooking can be as simple as keeping your knives sharp, wearing oven mitts and regularly cleaning your kitchen. Read on for more tips! 

EQUIPMENT

Kitchen knives are a main culprit of injuries in the kitchen. Contrary to what many believe, it’s dull knives that pose the most danger. For this reason, it is important to frequently sharpen all of your kitchen knives with a honing steel. Another huge no-no is placing kitchen knives in the sink for washing. Whether it is you or someone else that washes the dishes, it can be easy to forget that knives are in there and a sure way to cut yourself. Lastly, knives should be placed in a knife block when they aren’t being used. For that matter, any dangerous objects should be kept in a safe location.

Microwaves are another common culprit of accidents in the kitchen. Ensure that any dishes you put in the microwave are compatible and, generally, you should never put metals, plastics or glass inside, although there are now exceptions available in the marketplace.

Other pieces of cooking equipment to use caution with include pressure cookers and mandoline slicers. A mandoline replaces a knife for making uniform, super-thin cuts. They are particularly useful for potatoes, radishes and carrots. The blade is extremely sharp and because you must place your hand so close to the edge, be sure to find one that has a hand protector, to prevent cutting your hands.

Pressure cookers are known to be dangerous when not used properly. Do your research before buying one and read the instructions carefully before operating it. If you’re not comfortable, don’t use one – it’s as simple as that. When you cook with equipment or tools that intimidate you, you’re more likely to have an accident. 

Contrary to what many believe, it’s dull knives that pose the most danger.

AVOIDABLE ACCIDENTS

Whether you’re frying, grilling or sautéing food, never leave an active stovetop unattended. Fires can happen in the blink of an eye – especially where oil and grease are involved. If you’re deep-frying foods, be extra cautious. Wear a kitchen apron with non-flammable material and stand as far back from the stove as you can. Should a fire break out, don’t panic and NEVER throw water on a fire! Turn the heat off but avoid moving the pan or pot. If the fire doesn’t go out, smother it by placing a large metal lid (pot cover) over it or throw baking soda or flour on the flames. As a last resort, a fire extinguisher will do the trick. 

Above, we mentioned wearing a non-flammable apron, which is a great habit to get into. It’s also important that you limit exposed skin and avoid wearing loose-fitting or baggy clothing that could get caught on things. The same goes for dangling bracelets or any other accessories that aren’t practical for cooking. 

Should a fire break out, don’t panic and NEVER throw water on a fire!

OTHER TIPS

It may not seem obvious, but keeping your kitchen clean is a way to prevent injuries. Food debris on burners or in the oven can easily catch on fire. Similarly, clean up spills as soon as you can, while cooking, to avoid slipping! Apart from cleaning, you’ll want to declutter your kitchen cupboards and counters – otherwise, objects are more likely to fall and hit you or break into a million pieces. For this reason, heavy equipment should be stored in low areas. 

While you might think that first aid kits are only for workplaces, every home cook should keep one handy. At the very least, stock it with sterile bandages, burn cream, aspirin and rubbing alcohol. If you live with others, make sure that they know where to find it and how to use the items inside. 

It has become very common for home cooks to use iPads and cell phones in the kitchen to display online recipes. This is fine, as long as you don’t get distracted by noncooking-related distractions like text messages. Your focus should always be on the task at hand, in order to prevent injury (and a lousy meal, in general).

Other tips for preventing cooking injuries include bright lighting, using a sieve or colander for straining foods and keeping flammable objects far away from the stove, such as kitchen towels, food packaging and household cleaners.