kitchen safety - is your kitchen a hazard?
When it comes to the kitchen, safety isn’t exactly the first thing on a person’s mind. A kitchen is known to be the heart of the home and most people only think about kitchen safety when it comes to baby proofing. Your kitchen can be full of hazards and dangers that can be avoided if you are prepared. Follow these tips to keep you and your family safe.
This “Invisible Killer” accounts for over 150 non fire related deaths in the United States every year according to the U.S. Fire Administration. Carbon monoxide or CO is odorless, colorless and poisonous. Knowing the signs and symptoms of CO poisoning, will help save your life. Symptoms include headache, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea, and dizziness. Higher levels of CO poisoning can cause more severe symptoms such as mental confusion, vomiting, loss of muscular coordination, loss of consciousness, and ultimately death.
Your home and heating system should be inspected annually by a trained professional. Portable generators should never be used indoors even if the windows and doors are open. Generators are made for outdoor use only and when used in doors can be deadly. Your oven should not be used to heat your entire home. Carbon monoxide can build up slowly by leaving your oven on an open for an extended period of time. Battery operated CO alarms should be installed outside of separate sleeping areas to keep your family safe and alert you to a carbon monoxide leak.
The kitchen can get hot, especially with the gas and oven range on and any gadgets that you may be operating. Keep appliances and cords away from the counter top edge, so they don’t get knocked off. Don’t overload your circuits by running too many machines at once or use power strips or extension cords to power other appliances long term. A good rule of thumb is to use 80% of your circuits capabilities, so you don’t extensively damage your home’s wiring.
Utensils and Knives
Drawers should be organized with sharp or pointed edges pointing in one direction away from the body. Knives should be kept out of reach of children and somewhere they can’t be knocked over.
Do you have a fire extinguisher in your kitchen? It may not seem like an important detail, but better to be safe than sorry. Having a fire extinguisher in your kitchen can contain a small fire and save your home from massive destruction. The National Fire Protection Association recommends a multi-purpose extinguisher, so it can be used on all types of small fires in the home.
Sponges can harbor bacteria that can be spread around the kitchen and into your food. Carlos Enriquez, a microbiologist at the University of Arizona, did a study and found salmonella in 15% of the sponges examined. The best way to keep your sponges clean is to put them in the microwave wet to sterilize them. Do not put them in dry as they can catch fire.
Cross contamination can happen in your home and cause you severe pain or even worse, death. Practice good food storage habits by storing raw foods on the bottom shelf like your eggs and proteins and keep your ready to eat foods or fresh vegetables on the top shelves. Make sure to have your or calibrated for optimal temperatures annually. This will ensure your foods are being preserved at the appropriate temperatures.
Stove and Oven
Make sure your stove is properly secured. This may not seem relevant, but in older homes flooring can be uneven and when the oven door is open the stove can tip. Do not leave burners on underneath empty pots and turn burners off when finished cooking. Turn pot and pan handles in, so they can’t be knocked off of the stove causing burns or spills. Every kitchen needs a thorough cleaning once a month. Heat and humidity can cause the hood and filter on your gas or electrical range to build up with grease and lead to grease fires. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines on changing the filter and keep the hood clean.
Use caution when operating the garbage disposal and never place your hands or fingers near the disposal when it is running. Running water while the disposal is on will help push food down the drain and keep your disposal working efficiently. If your disposal stops working refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines or call a professional. It is dangerous to try and fix it yourself!
Household Chemicals and Cleaning Supplies
The most common place to store your household chemicals and supplies is underneath the sink. If you have children or small pets, this area can be lethal if not properly secured. Bleach and ammonia should be stored separately because they can produce toxic vapors.
Practice safe kitchen habits and make sure to service your appliances annually. Knowing how to prevent kitchen hazards will keep you and your family from unnecessary injuries or accidents.
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