The Kitchen is unlike any other room within your home. While the living room and bedroom are intended to be havens of relaxation, the kitchen is a hive of activity, with meals being prepared, cutlery being cleaned and laundry being done. It is a room where a lot of potentially dangerous equipment and appliances are situated, between extremely hot cookware, sharp knives and electrical items. This combination of frenetic activity and hazardous objects makes the kitchen the most likely source of accidents and injuries within your home.
This infographic from Pennywell examines the most pertinent dangers in the kitchen and advises on what you can do to minimize the risk of being included in the kitchen injury and death statistics. House fires are especially likely to originate from the kitchen, with studies from the National Fire Prevention Association showing that 46% of housefires, 44% of housefire injuries and 19% of housefire deaths arise from cookery-related accidents or neglect. Also, 17% of direct property damage from housefires stems from cookery catastrophes.
It isn’t just fires from hot cookware that present a threat in the kitchen, either. Burns from substances such as cooking oil, or from hot surfaces like oven shelves, can be extremely painful. Cuts from sharp equipment like knives and blenders are all too common. Liquid spills on the floor can be a subtler danger, especially if it’s a slippery substance like cooking oil. Another threat which many people don’t consider is the possible inhalation of harmful chemicals from detergents and household cleaners, or the possibility that these could be ingested by infants who don’t realize how dangerous they can be.
Let’s look firstly at how cookery-related accidents can be prevented. For starters, do not leave cookware unattended while it is being used. This is a shockingly regular theme in housefires, even though common sense would tell you that it is asking for trouble. If you have pets or small children, tell them to stay out of the kitchen while you are working in it, as they could be all too unaware of the potential dangers that lurk or they could distract you when you’re trying to focus on preparing dinner. If using pots or pans in cooking, turn the handles inward so that you don’t accidentally hit off them and cause them to tip boiling hot water all over you. Then, when you’re finished cooking, turn everything off. It beggars belief how often people leave a gas ring burning long after dinner has been eaten.
When using sharp objects like knives, do not put your fingers anywhere near the blade. Curl them inwards and always slice away from your hand. When using chopping boards, make sure that they are firmly secure so that they don’t slip, as this could cause you to accidentally chop into your hand or wrist. Remember, too, that any knife can be dangerous – you might not think butter knives would cause any harm, but they are more liable to slip than sharp knives or cleavers while you’re cutting.
Finally, make sure you have taken every precaution as regards fire prevention. That means stocking your kitchen with a working fire extinguisher (it’s not much use if it’s empty) and making sure that your smoke alarm works. Both of these should be checked routinely so that, if a fire unfortunately occurs, you have the best possible chance of quenching it or getting to safety if it is uncontrollable.
Having a solid, safe kitchen not only increases the value of your home; it gives you and your family the security of knowing that you’ve done all you can to reduce the risk of injury or death.
Andrew Sweeny is the Owner and Managing Director of a high-end kitchen surfaces company called Pennywell. As one of the leading fabricators of solid surface materials in Ireland, Andrew is keenly interested in interior décor and writes extensively about home interiors, particularly in relation to kitchen and living spaces, creating articles, infographics, quizzes and other interactive content.
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