Safety in the Kitchen – Part 1: Preventing Accidents

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Posted by gilly

The kitchen may well be the most used room in the home. We prepare food there, eat there, even entertain there. Given the amount of time spent there, along with the nature of activities that go on in it, the potential for kitchen accidents is quite high. In this first of a two part series on Safety in the Kitchen, we look at preventative measures that can be taken to reduce the likelihood of accidents occurring in our kitchens.

Although it’s impossible to foresee every type of accident that might occur in the kitchen, there are certain accidents that we see over and over again. Often, these could have been prevented by taking appropriate safety measures. The following are some ideas to minimize the risk of injury to yourself or your loved ones. Although most of them are common sense, it never hurts to go over and understand them.

Preventing slips and falls

  • Clean messes and spills immediately to prevent slipping and falling.
  • Do not stand on unsteady objects to reach overhead items.
  • Keep the floor clear of objects that may pose tripping hazards, such as boxes, groceries, pets, even small children!

Preventing cuts and scrapes

  • Use knives on a proper cutting surface. While they aren’t in use, place knives on a flat, solid surface – away from the edge of counters, tables, etc.
  • Never leave knives in dishwater – it may cut the unsuspecting dishwasher. Wash and dry knives separately.
  • Clean up broken glass slowly and thoroughly. Dispose of glasses, plates, etc. that are chipped or cracked before they shatter or break in usage.
  • Keep all sharp objects out of the reach of children.

Preventing poisoning (chemical, food…)

  • Wash hands before you begin working in the kitchen, as well as regularly as you work.
  • Lock cleaners and chemicals away from children – either by putting child proof mechanisms on kitchen cabinets or keeping them in another secured area.
  • If chemical cleaners or other dangerous items must be kept in the kitchen, store them at the lowest points so that any leaks will not contaminate food.
  • Wash fresh food and produce prior to preparation.
  • Follow directions when preparing meats, poultry, eggs and seafood. Internal temperatures safe for consumption are as follows:

    • beef, lamb and veal ~145F (63C)
    • pork and ground beef ~160F (71C)
    • whole poultry and thighs ~180F (82C)
    • poultry breasts ~170F (77C)
    • ground chicken or ground turkey ~165F (74C).
    • eggs ~160F (71C)
    • seafood ~145F (63C)

  • Do not thaw frozen meats, poultry etc. in the kitchen sink or on the kitchen counter. Microwave to defrost, if possible.
  • Always wash contaminated surfaces immediately.
  • Wash can lids prior to opening, and avoid cans that have dents or other surface compromises.
  • Keep your refrigerator set ~40F (4C).
  • Foods should either be hot or cold – lukewarm foods encourage bacterial growth, leading to food poisoning, or quicker spoilage.

Preventing Fires and Burns

  • Keep a fire-extinguisher in your kitchen. Be sure to read and understand how to use it properly – i.e. spraying the SOURCE of the flames, not just the flames themselves.
  • Keep flammable items away from burners – this includes things such as curtains, oven mitts, napkins, paper towels, etc.
  • Keep pot handles turned away from the edge of the stove (not over adjacent burners), and keep hot dishes away from the edges of counters, stoves, tables, etc. where they may be pulled down or knocked over.
  • Keep flammable materials, and materials with vapours away from the stove and range, as they may spontaneously ignite.
  • Do not give young children pots and pans to play with – they may grab these ‘toys’ when they are filled with hot items.
  • Use the appropriate oven mitts or pot holders to handle hot dishes. Be wary of opening lids of very hot or boiling food items as steam can cause serious burns.
  • Know what to do in case of a grease fire:

    • Cover the pot or pan with a large and heavy lid, or larger pan. Turn off heat – or keep the oven door closed. All of these tactics can help ‘smother’ the flame.
    • NEVER try to put it out with water!
    • Use a fire extinguisher, fire blanket, or even baking soda as a means to put out the fire.

  • Make sure all burners and the stove are turned off when not in use.

Preventing general injuries

  • Read and understand how to operate your appliances. Keep their cords neatly away from the edges of counters, tables, etc. to prevent them from being pull over the edge.
  • Keep a well stocked first aid kit in the kitchen, and be sure that everyone knows its location.
  • Keep emergency numbers (fire, police, poison control) near the telephone and be sure everyone is aware of them.
  • Keep long hair tied back, and do not wear dangly jewelry or loose clothes while you are working.
  • Pay attention to what you are doing, whether it is cutting up food, cooking on the stove, using a mixer, etc. Never leave these items unattended.

Although this is not an exhaustive list, I hope that this will help you reconsider safety in the kitchen. Do you have safety tips you follow to keep yourself and others safe? We’d love to hear about it in the comments section!

Until next time, I wish you health, happiness, and SAFETY!

Additional Resources:
Kitchen Safety -
General Safety Around the Kitchen -
Food Safety Test -
Kitchen Safety Checklist -

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This Post was written by Gilly from Humble Pie


Many times people forget that the kitchen often has many hidden dangers. I speak from experience, my brother at the age of three burnt himself with boiling water in the kitchen. Today he is 32 and still fighting the issues that accompanies one when something like this happens. Gilly, I hope this effort of yours and out theme this month helps people to get rid of these dangers for their own children.

Meeta K. Wolff said...
May 11, 2007 at 7:50:00 AM GMT+2  

What a great read. Everybody ought to print it out or forward it to somebody.
Great job Gilly!

Helene said...
May 11, 2007 at 2:30:00 PM GMT+2  

Thank you both for your kind comments... although alot of it is common sense, I was glad to put together (and re-read)these 'reminders' just the same...

Wow, Meeta - that's awful about your brother...

Anonymous said...
May 11, 2007 at 10:18:00 PM GMT+2  

And I'm dangerous with knives. I'm always cutting myself even though I use all the right techniques and have a good set of knives, I just get going too fast sometimes.

Where's workman's comp when I need it?

Scribbit said...
May 11, 2007 at 11:43:00 PM GMT+2  

Hey Gilly, why don't you contribute to the Safety Moment too? THere's a topic for each month, where all these issues are covered.

J said...
May 16, 2007 at 9:44:00 AM GMT+2  

Kitchens are the place where the probability of work injury is very high. The common cause for this is the unsafe use of hot stoves, ovens, and grills that can cause burns to individuals working nearby. Kitchen utensils may also cause injury to the cooker, the most common of which are knife cuts and injuries caused by pots and pans. Kitchens may also have slippery surfaces upon which individuals may trip and fall. The kitchen owner should take precautions to protect herself/himself at all times. Food preparation and cooking surfaces should be kept clean at all times and kitchens should be free of contaminants and hazardous materials. Restaurant owners should make sure that all employees have undergone adequate food preparation courses and are aware of proper cooking procedures for each item on the menu. Visit work accident claims for more information.

Jay Parmar said...
February 23, 2010 at 12:26:00 PM GMT+1  

Gilly, I hope this effort of yours and out theme this month helps people to get rid of these dangers for their own

Term Papers said...
May 4, 2010 at 3:17:00 PM GMT+2  

I will mirror the comments from the other readers of what a fabulous guide this is! I especially liked the section relating to fire safety including the fire blanket and fire extinguisher. Another thought would be do you think it would be beneficial to group these in terms of appliances and stations around the kitchen as to opposed to grouped means of prevention? Keep posting!

Unknown said...
August 10, 2010 at 3:29:00 PM GMT+2  

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