What can I do to avoid kitchen accidents and injuries?

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Today’s kitchen is no longer mom’s workplace tucked away at the back of the house. Floor plans now tie the kitchen, dining and living areas into an visually linked space, and it’s not unusual for the whole family, pets and friends to be in the kitchen at the same time.

    But a kitchen can also be dangerous, and cooking fires are the biggest safety risk. The National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) offers some interesting statistics:

  • During 2007-2011, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 156,600 home structure fires involving cooking equipment per year. 
  • These fires caused an annual average of 400 civilian deaths, 5,080 civilian injuries, and $853 million in direct property damage.
  • Unattended cooking was by far the major contributing factor, and frying poses the greatest risk of fire.
  • More than half (55%) of reported non-fatal home cooking fire injuries occurred when the victims tried to fight the fire themselves.

Here’s a few simple things you can do to make your kitchen safer:

  • Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires, so it’s a good idea to keep a UL rated fire extinguisher in the kitchen. If you have a range fire, splashing water on it is a mistake because it will spatter the flaming food and oil. Cover a flaming pan with the lid to suffocate the flames. 
  • Another safety issue we often encounter is low clearance over the range for reaching the controls at the back of the appliance. It is important to have the range hood fan or microwave oven installed no lower than 18-inches from the top of the cooktop (a building code requirement) so that you do not have to bend over the cooking area to adjust the burners. Also, make sure that range legs are adjusted so that it is both stable and level. 
  • The range safety clip is another important safety device and is required to be installed on any free standing range. One is included with every range sold in the United States. Some are chains that attach to the wall to keep the stove from tipping forward, but the most common type is a clip that screws to the base of the wall and has a slot for a back leg of the appliance to slide into horizontally. The elderly are often injured while reaching up and placing their body weight into the stove while attempting to help themselves up after cleaning a mess on the floor. Children sitting or standing on the open oven door can be severely injured, especially if there is hot food cooking. 
  • Many kitchens have 48-inch high upper cabinets, and reaching stored objects can require a standing on a step stool. Invest in a sturdy folding stool with non-slip treads and always follow the manufacturers use instructions. 
  • Avoid throw rugs in the kitchen. Non-slip grease resistant mats are a safer bet and many offer a low stress surface to stand on for long periods. Pet water and food bowls placed on mats keep the floor slip free.

    Also, see our blog post What are the "Aging In Place" features to look for when buying a retirement home? and Why is it important to use "cabinet screws" to mount the upper cabinets in the kitchen?

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Here’s links to a collection of some of our other blog posts about SAFETY:

What is the best place to install carbon monoxide alarms (CO detectors) in a house? 

Is the door between an attached garage and the house required to have a closer (self-closing device)?

Can the smoke sensors in a home security/fire alarm system replace the smoke alarms required by the building code?

Should I get a lightning rod system to protect my house?  

How do I safely remove a dead rodent (rat, mouse or squirrel) from the attic?

Does pushing the test button on a smoke alarm test the smoke sensor device inside? 

What is the minimum height of a ceiling fan above the floor?

Should a smoke alarm be installed in the kitchen? 

Why is a double cylinder deadbolt lock on an exterior door a safety hazard?

Why are rubber washing machine hoses a safety risk?

Where are smoke alarms required to be located? 

Are carbon monoxide alarms required to be installed in homes in Florida?

Are old vinyl tile floors dangerous?  

How can I use safety checks to limit my tenant liability for a rental house?

Do you inspect for trip hazards around the home? 

When should I replace my smoke alarms?

• Why is an anti-tip device now required behind the range? 

• What are the hazards to avoid when going into an attic? 

• What are the warning signs of a dangerous deck?

   Visit our SAFETY page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles.

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