The kitchen, much like the bathroom, can be full of dangerous hazards which could cause you harm, such as burns from the cooker or a fall after slipping on the kitchen floor. But the kitchen presents more risks than just injury; according to the Fire Safe website, cooking accounts for two thirds of all domestic fires. We know that carrying out tasks in the kitchen can be especially difficult for older people and those with a medical condition. That’s why we’ve put together this collection of our top kitchen safety tips.
Keep your kitchen clean
First on our list of kitchen safety tips is to ensure that everything is clean and tidy. Head into the kitchen, take a look around and see what may need changing in order to reduce the risk of a fall or a fire. The kitchen floor is a great place to start.
A dirty floor can become slippery, which increases the risk of a fall. Bits of food, water and packaging can easily find their way onto the floor, causing dust and trip hazards in the process. We advise washing and hoovering your kitchen floor at least once a week.
The cleaning shouldn’t end at the kitchen floor either. A buildup of grease and fat on your cooker hob increases the likelihood of a fire. The same buildup on your worktops can carry the same threat. Your worktops can be cleaned with ease on a daily basis, while the hob should be cleaned at least once a week.
Being clean and tidy also reduces the risk of insect infestations, such as ants and roaches. Allowing your kitchen to become dirty can put your food hygiene at risk, which in-turn can cause you to become ill.
Maintaining a clean kitchen is important, but we know that it can be taxing, particularly for older people with mobility issues or those who live alone. Ask for help from a relative, friend, or neighbour wherever you need it.
Buy a first aid kit
Every kitchen needs a first aid kit, in case you suffer an injury whilst cooking or tidying. Even when you are being careful, accidents can always happen, especially when using a knife or the oven.
If you cut or burn yourself it is important to act swiftly. Leaving injuries unattended can cause plenty of pain and the risk of infection increases. A first aid kit for the kitchen should include bandages and plasters for you to dress any wounds.
If you do suffer a burn, St John Ambulance suggests that you follow these guidelines:
- Move away from the source of heat.
- Start to cool the burn as quickly as possible.
- Run it under cool water for at least 10 minutes – don’t use ice, creams, or gels.
- Remove any jewellery or clothing near to the burn – unless it is stuck to the burn.
Think smart whilst cooking
You can keep yourself safe from kitchen hazards by thinking carefully and being mindful of your surroundings while cooking.
The first of these kitchen safety tips may sound obvious, but it is one that many people ignore. When using the hob, you should never leave your cooking unattended. While you’re away, you won’t notice whether your food is burning or boiling over onto the hob. It is also easy to become distracted and forget about your food altogether, increasing the risk of a fire.
When using the hob, it is wise to organise your pans so that the handles don’t point out over the edge of the hob. Leaving your pans this way will make them easy to knock over as you walk past, which can lead to nasty burns.
For those with arthritis, there are lightweight and double-handled pans available. These make it much easier for you to lift and carry your pans, thereby reducing the risk of accidents.
Next up on our list of kitchen safety tips is to avoid wearing loose-fitting clothing when cooking. Loose sleeves can easily catch fire when you’re working near a heat source. It is equally dangerous to hang tea towels on or over your cooker.
Other tips include:
- Ventilation – Always ensure the ventilation system (or extractor fan) above your cooker is working, especially if it’s a gas cooker. In some cases it may also be necessary to open a window.
- Timers – You should always use your oven’s timer whilst cooking to reduce the risk of your food burning and causing a fire. Some modern ovens automatically turn off when your timer goes off. If your hearing is impaired, we advise setting a second alarm on your mobile phone.
- Electricals – Ensure that there are no electrical leads from nearby devices trailing over or near to your oven.
A build up of grease and fat on your cooker hob increases the chance of a fire being started. The same build up on your worktops can also carry the same threat. Your worktops can be cleaned with ease on a daily basis, while the hob should be cleaned at least once a week.”
Remove any fire hazards
It is very important that you remove any additional fire hazards that present unnecessary risks in the kitchen. As previously mentioned, you should avoid wearing baggy clothing whilst cooking and avoid hanging tea towels above your cooker.
Kitchen safety tips for removing fire hazards:
- Keep flammable liquids out of the kitchen.
- Place socket covers over electrical sockets that are not in use.
- Unplug small appliances when not in use.
- Have an electrician check the fuse box or circuit breakers to ensure that the wiring in the kitchen is done properly.
- Keep toasters and kettles away from curtains and tea towels.
Be careful when using knives
As we all know, using a knife can be a very dangerous task. With careless use, a knife can cause injury not only to the person using the knife but also to those around them.
The first of our kitchen safety tips for using a knife may surprise you. This is to ensure that you keep your knives sharp. A blunt knife requires more pressure to cut and is more prone to slipping, while a sharp knife will cut successfully with less pressure, giving you maximum control.
When using a knife you should always use a stable, non slippery, surface and you should always slice away from you body – taking it slow until you become confident30. Whilst walking around the kitchen you should always carry your knife with the blade pointing downwards, before storing the knife away safely after use.
Take extra care when washing your knives in the sink, it can be very easy to cut yourself.
Worried about kitchen hazards?
If you are concerned about accidents or injuries in the kitchen, you might benefit from one of our life-saving personal alarms. To find out more, please speak to one of our friendly advisors on 0800 999 0400. Alternatively, complete our contact us form and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
This page was updated on 30 April 2020