Kitchen Safety

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Ovens and Ranges

Always make sure the oven and stove top is clean. If not, clean them thoroughly and safely. Residue grease and food can catch fire. Keep pot handles turned inward, away from the edge of the stove. Don't wear long, loose sleeves that can hang over the stove while cooking. An electric burner coil can reach a temperature of more than 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. This can ignite clothing even after the coil has been turned off. Flammable fabrics, such as towels, dish rags or curtains can be ignited merely by being used or stored near a gas or electric range. Vapors from contact cement, gasoline, cleaning fluids or other flammable liquids can be ignited by the pilot of the kitchen range.

Children in the Kitchen

Children and kitchens aren't a good mix. Continuous and adequate supervision of children in the kitchen is of prime importance. As a child's mobility and curiosity increases, appropriate supervision becomes essential. Keep all hot items at a safe distance from a child. Keep the child at a safe distance from all hot items by using highchairs, child safety gates, playpens, etc. Create a safe zone for children. Keep them out of the household traffic path and check for their location before moving any hot or heavy item. Remove tablecloths and placemats when toddlers are present. They can tug and pull on everything within their reach. Hot or heavy items can be easily pulled on top of them. Never give children pots and pans to play with. Children may reach for this "toy" when it contains hot liquid or food. An oven door can get hot enough to burn a youngster who might fall or lean against it. It can be particularly dangerous for a child just learning to walk who may use the door for support; the child is often unable to let go before suffering a burn. Keep small children out of the kitchen when the oven is in use.

Fire and Hot Oil Safety in the Kitchen

Here is some very important knowledge that can help you keep from being hurt when you work with fire and other hot things around the kitchen.

  • "The Fat is on the Fire..."

    This is an old and well known saying that means that things are happening, important things that you should pay attention to. This is most literally true around kitchens. Most kitchen fires, and lots of the restaurants that burn down, burn because someone started heating fat or oil and forgot about it. The oil gets hotter and hotter, smokes a bit, and then bursts into flame, and it makes great fuel! A cardinal rule in the kitchen: when "The Fat is on the Fire", PAY ATTENTION!

  • Deep Fat Fryers

    In addition to being fire hazards from the oil, deep fat fryers have other dangerous traits. One thing to pay particular attention to is never, ever get a glass of water, a drink, or any other liquid that is not cooking oil where it can spill into the fryer. If it does, it turns into steam instantly, and can violently spray hot oil in all directions.

    Watch the electrical cord carefully. Don't leave it where something might snag it, and dump the load of hot oil about. I had a friend once who left the cord to his deep fat fryer across a doorway, and there were kids in the house. One of them ran through the door, and got it.

    Also, be careful even when you add food to a deep fat fryer. If the fat is too hot, or if there are pockets of liquid in the prepared food, the hot fat can spray about.

  • Here are some other burn safety tips to remember:

    Always remember that the steam will rise out of a boiling pot of water when you take off the cover. Remove the cover far side first so that this steam doesn't scald your hand.

    If you take a hot pan or a cover from the fire and put it on a counter, leave a hot pad on the hot lid or utensil as a warning to the others in the kitchen that it is hot. (And tell them this is the way this message is conveyed.) In many kitchens a dusting of flour on the utensil is the warning that it is fresh off the fire and hot.

    The Fire Department recommends having a 2A10BC fire extinguisher in the kitchen; make sure it is charged at all times, learn how to use it. Get some professional training in this, the people that service your extinguishers can probably arrange a bit of training, and you should get as much as possible. A good quick person that knows what they are doing can stop a fire in its tracks with an extinguisher. Someone who doesn't know what they are doing around a good, quick kitchen fire can easily get themselves killed.

    Don't let the pan handles on the stove stick out over the floor. Not only can curious kids get to them, but they can snag on clothing ect and spill. Turn them to the side, but don't let them extend over adjacent burners.

  • Appliances

    Use only appliances that have received an Underwriters' Laboratory or Factory Mutual testing label.

    Do not allow appliance cords to dangle over the edge of counter tops or tables. Children may pull at them and injure themselves. Or you may catch them unintentionally and pull them off the counter.

    Do not overload electrical circuits. Unplug appliances when not in use. If an appliance smells funny, doesn't function correctly, or has frayed or broken wiring, have it repaired or replaced.

    Microwave Ovens

    Burns associated with the use or misuse of microwave ovens are increasing. The scald burn is the most common type of burn and most involve the hands. The age distribution is rather broad, but there continues to be a large number of young children who sustain the more serious burns. The single most common cause of burn injury is simply the fact that people do not expect items heated in the microwave oven to present the same risk as items heated by other more conventional means.

    Many people do not fully appreciate or understand how the microwave oven heats food. The fact that a food container may not be hot may mislead an individual to assume that the food itself is not really hot - thus a burn injury occurs.

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