How to Avoid Potential Cooking Dangers
Almost every home and apartment has a kitchen in it that makes it possible for people to cook food. However, the kitchen is the most dangerous place in the entire house, as it contains plenty of common potential hazards, such as fire, electrical issues, burns, slipping on the floor, improper handling of food and kitchen equipment, food poisoning, and improper storage. You won't be able to eliminate every single risk from your kitchen, but with a little bit of knowledge about how to stay safe and how to keep your food safe, you can decrease the likelihood of injuries and illnesses coming from the kitchen.
Proper Food Safety
An average of 1 in 6 Americans will experience food-borne illness annually. These illnesses are usually caused by bacteria or pathogens that contaminate food and cause vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, headache, fever, and body aches. While most people will recover from these illnesses in a short period of time, it's entirely possible to avoid them altogether by following four simple steps: clean, separate, cook, and chill.
- Clean: You should wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food and after using the bathroom, handling pets, and changing diapers. You should also wash surfaces such as cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and countertops with hot, soapy water before and after preparing each food item. Use paper towels to clean up surfaces; if you use cloth towels, make sure to wash them often in hot water. You should also rinse all fresh fruits and vegetables and scrub firm produce with a clean produce brush to ensure that it is completely clean.
- Separate: Separate your raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs from other foods from the moment you put them into your shopping cart to the day you cook them. You should also use different cutting boards for each type of food, and never cut fruits and vegetables on a plate or cutting board that recently had raw meat unless it's been washed. If you are using marinades, it's best to never reuse one you've used on raw foods unless it's been boiled.
- Cook: It's important that all meats are cooked to the right temperature. Color and texture should never be used as proof that something is cooked through; this runs the risk of exposing people to harmful bacteria. The best way to check is to use a meat thermometer to ensure that it is the proper temperature.
- Chill: You should refrigerate leftover food promptly after eating. Perishables should be stored in a fridge or freezer within two hours of cooking or purchasing them or within an hour if the temperature is above 90 degrees Fahrenheit. When thawing foods, never do it on a countertop at room temperature; always do it in cold water, in the refrigerator, or in the microwave. Anything thawed in the microwave or in cold water should be cooked immediately after thawing.
Proper Kitchen Safety
Accidents are bound to happen in the kitchen, but you can understand the hazards and mitigate the potential cuts and burns with the following tips:
- Wear shoes while cooking.
- Learn how to extinguish a fire.
- Learn how to properly use knives.
- Always wear safe clothing, not long, baggy clothes that could catch fire.
- Use clean and dry potholders or oven mitts when handling anything on the stovetop or in the oven.
- Always wash your hands before and after touching food.
- Always stir and lift the lid of a pot away from you to keep the steam and condensation from burning your skin.
- Never set a hot glass dish on a wet or cold surface, as this could cause it to crack. Always place it on a trivet, cutting board, or potholder.
- Don't use metal utensils on nonstick or Teflon pans, as this could cause the Teflon to chip and potentially mix toxic compounds into your food. Use wooden and plastic spoons instead.
Dangers in the Kitchen
The kitchens is the most dangerous room in any house or apartment. Many times, common kitchen hazards cause minor injuries that can be prevented, but sometimes, they can result in serious medical emergencies. Even though accidents can happen, it can be helpful to identify the hazards that most often occur in a home kitchen in order to be on the lookout for them. These include:
- Slipping and falling
- Broken glass
- Cuts from improper knife use
- Fires from unattended burners
- Improper food storage
Preventing Kitchen Dangers
It's possible to keep injuries from happening to you and your loved ones by keeping your cooking space clean at all times. Your cooking space refers to not only the countertop you're using but also the floor. It's also important to pay attention to your knife while you cook as well as your pots and pans so you don't burn yourself while reaching across the stove. Finally, follow good food safety practices to ensure that you always have clean, safe food and you don't run the risk of getting food poisoning from one of your meals.
Additional Safety Information and Resources