Kitchen Hazards: Appliance Safety, Fires and Tips For Kids

Kitchen Hazards: Appliance Safety, Fires and Tips For Kids

A popular saying states, "No matter where I serve my guests, they seem to like my kitchen best." People love to spend time in the kitchen cooking and visiting, but how we use that space is very important. We often consider the way we handle food, but neglect to pay attention to other things we use including appliances. A basic understanding of kitchen safety is a must for both young and old alike.

Microwave Safety

The microwave has been a marvel of technological convenience since average families started using them back in the 1970's, but while they seem safe, there are dangers to be aware of. Microwaves, such as GE microwaves work using radiation and although it is debated, it is generally advised that once the microwave is started the user move at least one foot away to be safe from any possible radiation. Always discontinue using any microwave oven that has a broken seal and/or a loose or broken door. If you would like to repair the microwave, you should use extreme caution. Even if it’s just a small kitchen aid part like a handle that needs to be replaced, there is a serious risk of radiation leak when doing repairs and it should be performed by a certified technician

Microwaves travel easily through water and due to that it can be a hazard if water is cooked too long. Overheated water in a clean glass or ceramic container can prevent the bubbles associated with boiling. Bubbling cools the water and when bubbles cannot form, the water becomes unstable. Simply disturbing it can cause it to explode resulting in scalding burns. By simply adding a wooden spoon to the container, this can be avoided, but heating water for the minimum time needed is best.

Never use metal in a microwave, metal reflects the microwaves causing them to arc and spark, this could cause fire or burn out your oven. Oils also do not heat well in a microwave because of their lack of polarity and can destroy your cookware. Cookware should be made of hard paper, glass or ceramic. Scientists have found developmental and neurological damage in lab animals exposed to food cooked in plastic.

Oven and Grill Safety

Anytime you are dealing with flames, you should be careful. Kitchen fires are always a concern and over a quarter of house fires begin at the stove. Never set flammable objects atop a stove, the pilot light or a grill that is inadvertently turned on can quickly ignite such items. The same can be said about Jenn-Air parts such as cartridges. This is true of the oven as well; nothing should ever be stored inside the oven that is capable of burning. It is also advisable to keep a kitchen certified fire extinguisher on hand to tackle such fires. Water can also be used to extinguish fires unless it is a grease fire. (See below)

Always keep children away from hot grills, open ovens and boiling pots. Burns often occur when a child grabs a pot of boiling liquid from the stove top or touches a hot oven door or grill. When lighting a grill make sure that the lid is open so that there is no build up of gas and always use an extended grill lighter or fireplace match. If gas fumes have built-up there could be an explosive burst of flames when lit causing burns or starting a fire. This is also true when lighting a pilot light that has gone out on an oven. Be sure that the room has first been well ventilated. If you are unsure of how long the pilot has been out, this may mean turning off the gas at its source and airing the room for a time before relighting.

Grease Fires

Grease fires are all too common in households. Try to avoid grease fires by limiting the oil used when cooking, using spray oils when possible and always wiping up oil that has spilled on the stove top or grill. If meat grease or oil spills over the edge of a pan, take a wet cloth and wipe it off immediately. If the grease gets to the grill or flame, it could travel up into the pan and cause a fire.

When dealing with a grease fire that is contained within a pan, cover your hand with an oven mitt, then simply cover the burning pan with a lid, and turn off the heat source. Never put water on a grease fire! Water thrown on a grease fire can spatter and spread the fire throughout the kitchen or onto you. Covering an outdoor grill with its lid will do the same thing, but also remember to close any other vents in order to extinguish the flames. Never reach across an active fire before covering the flames as this could ignite your clothing or burn your arm. If the grease fire has spread beyond the pan and you do not have a dry chemical fire extinguisher, douse the flames by covering with a dampened towel or use baking soda. If the flames get beyond your control immediately leave the home and call for emergency help.

General Kitchen Safety

Hazards in the kitchens can vary widely, but by following a few simple steps, everyone can be safe. When working with sharp knives be sure to hold whatever you are cutting to the side, folding fingers under so there are no tips to nick or cut while slicing or chopping. Knives should also be kept well out of reach of children. Other sharp items in the kitchen also have blades such as food processors and blenders. Always read the safety directions that come with any appliance first. Never use your hand to insert or rearrange food items in a running machine, as fingers could be caught up in the blades. It is also a bad idea to stick any kind of utensil into a moving machine as it can shatter, become a projectile or cause your appliance to overheat causing it to burn up or surge a charge through the appliance giving you a jolt. You should also keep an eye out for worn and potentially dangerous appliance parts, particularly in gas appliances. Broken or cracked handles and other parts can create dangerous situations. You should always make sure your appliances are properly maintained and purchase any parts, such as whirlpool parts, as soon as you discover a problem.

Oven mitts or potholders should always be used for pulling things from an oven, but should also be used with hot pots on the stove. Handles and lids can become very hot while cooking. Be careful not to leave them lying near heat sources, so as to prevent the chance of a fire. To avoid falls from slipping on wet or greasy surfaces, make sure to quickly clean up any spills on the floor. Countertops should also be kept clean and clear to avoid food contamination and/or knocking over potentially sharp or breakable items and always be sure to have a fire detection device in or near your kitchen.

Kids in the Kitchen

Kids love to cook and learn about how things work in the kitchen, so it is important that they understand basic safety. First, they must remember to always wash their hands; hands have lots of germs on them that can be spread to food items. It is also important to remove any stickers and wash all fruits and vegetables before eating them. If cutting the fruit or vegetables, they should make sure to cut away from the body so the knife does not come back and cut them.

If planning on doing cooking of any kind, be sure to have a parent’s permission first and only use the stove after having learned how to use it first. When using any method of heating appliance be sure to keep all towels, paper or other flammable items clear from the heat source. Also, make sure pot handles face inward and do not overhang the stove edge where they can be knocked or grabbed, which could cause them to fall.

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