Kitchens are an integral add-on to any real estate. In the United States, the recent work from home culture has empowered people’s confidence in cooking. This confidence will most likely prevail even after everything returns to its normal state.
A recent survey conducted by Hunter among 1005 Americans between the ages 18 to 73 highlighted 54% of individuals cooking more and around 46% baking more at home.
While the foot traffic at your kitchen is increasing, there are several hazards that you need to be mindful of. The consequences of overlooking kitchen hazards can range from minor injuries to serious medical emergencies. This post features some common kitchen hazards that should be on your checklist.
Improper food storage can second bacterial and virus growth. Mishandling of food or improper disposal in the kitchen can produce germs, including salmonella and norovirus.
- Do not overstock shelves and ensure to store containers and heavy items not higher than waist height.
- Use the bottom shelves in your refrigerator to store meat and poultry items and allocate the ready-to-eat food items on the top.
- Use high-quality containers to keep food items separate and prevent overloading the fridge.
Almost all kitchens in the United States boast multitudes of electrical appliances. While different electrical appliances such as microwaves, coffee machines, and mixers make life easier, be mindful of the shock hazards.
Faulty equipment, equipment overloading, or improper handling are common in cases of electrical shocks and fire hazards. Stick to the user’s manual rules while using electrical appliances in your kitchen and ensure that all the electrical appliances in your kitchen are placed in a moist free environment and away from a water source.
Chemicals are an integral part of kitchen maintenance for residential and commercial property. Improper storage and handling of chemicals within the kitchen can cause burns, skin irritations, breathing issues, and infections.
While using chemicals in the kitchen, adhere to the following precautions:
- Invest in non-toxic chemicals
- Label cleaning supplies properly
- Use protective wear, including gloves and masks
- Read the usage instructions on the label
- Store chemicals in a dry place away from a fire source
Unattended Gas Fire
Unattended gas fire or cooking fire is the most prominent cause of house fire in the U.S. While unattended cooking is the main culprit, open flames from the stove and excessive heat from cooking equipment such as ovens and microwaves also trigger house fires. A grease fire is another major home cooking fire type that often raises serious concerns. The fact that grease fires can escalate by adding water or water-based fire extinguisher makes grease fire dangerous.
Home cooking safety tips
- If a fire in the kitchen escalates, try smothering its progress by turning the appliance off and covering the source with a metal lid.
- A portable stove or other cooking equipment should be cleaned and cooled off before being stored.
- Do not leave the kitchen unattended while cooking
- Keep anything that could catch fire away from the fire sources/equipment, including stove and oven.
Slips, trips & falls
Kitchens present numerous slip and fall risks, especially areas near the sink and where the cooking liquids and chemicals are stored. Be mindful of the common slip and fall risks in your kitchen, such as:
- Wet floor from cleaning
- Spillage of water or other liquids
- Loose or worn flooring
- Old or worn-out carpets
Kitchen burn hazards are almost inevitable. Direct flames and handling hot utensils and hot oils present high risks for serious injury. Burn hazards in the kitchen can occur via different sources, including electricity, flames, and chemicals.
Protective clothing such as eyewear, heat-resistant gloves, and aprons can help you prevent most of the immediate risks, including oil splatter, stem exposure, or hot liquid spillage.
Grease and Moisture
Kitchens are always vulnerable to grease and moisture accumulation. A leak in your sink that runs down the pipe to the hardly accessed kitchen cupboard sets the perfect stage for mold growth. Mold growth, if overlooked, can cause major issues.
Grease accumulation, especially on and under cooktops, is a major concern. A grease fire is the common kitchen fire type that wreaks havoc. Most people have no idea how to handle a grease or kitchen fire. A grease fire can flare up in seconds and burn down the entire house.
What not to do during a grease fire
- Never pour water into a grease fire: The molecular properties of water and oil don’t allow them to mix. While splashing water onto a grease fire, the water droplets initially sink into the burning oil and get superheated; since water doesn’t mix with oil, the superheated molecules can erupt with a blast of flames.
- Try to move the pan: trying to pick up the pan in flames is risky as it can cause the flaming grease to spill on the kitchen benchtop or the floor if not on you.
- Use a wet towel: trying to smother a grease fire by throwing a wet towel on top is can also make things worse. During the act, you risk pulling the pan off the stove to the floor or on yourself.
- Using water-based fire extinguishers: using a water-based fire extinguisher on a grease fire can have disastrous results.
Lifting or Manual handling
Heavy lifting in the kitchen can lead to sprains and muscle strains. Seek help if you think the object is too heavy for you, and do not lift heavy objects to place them higher in the cupboards. Prevent overreaching while handling things, and make sure to apply the stress to your legs rather than the backbone while lifting heavy objects.
Preventing accidents in the kitchen is a challenging task, mainly when you use the kitchen consistently. Carelessness is the culprit that can inflict severe injuries in a kitchen environment. Remember, the risk can range from physical injuries to major property damage from incidents such as fire.