The kitchen is where many household injuries happen. This isn’t really news to most of us. Who hasn’t sliced a knuckle cutting onions, or scalded himself on hot rigatoni water? The good news is that most kitchen injuries are preventable. Here are some of the most common injuries and how to avoid them.
Burns from hot liquids
Burns from hot liquids such as water, oil and sauces are among the most common kitchen injuries—especially among young children, according to the Mayo Clinic.
To prevent them:
- Keep pot handles out of reach—turn them toward the walls or in a direction where you won’t bump into them and young children cannot reach them
- Know where your kids are when you have a hot pot or pan on the stove
- Use a strainer or colander with a handle, so your hands don’t get burned by hot steam when straining pasta or potatoes. Hot steam is even hotter than hot water. Also, use oven mitts.
- Be extra careful when you’re heating large amounts of oil on the stove. Monitor the temperature closely, use oven mitts to do anything, wear long sleeves, and never leave it unattended.
- Use oven mitts and stand away from a hot pot when you remove the lid, to avoid steam burn
Burns from touching something hot are often caused by being in a rush. We need to get to the oven immediately to check on something, or we want to open and close the door quickly to preserve the heat. But being in a hurry can be harmful. Try setting the oven timing for a few minutes less than is recommended, so you can check on the item cooking without rushing to avoid burning it.
To prevent contact burns:
- Make it a habit to have oven mitts out and accessible before you start cooking—set them next to the stove. Then you won’t have to scramble to find them later and risk doing something with your bare hands.
- Microwaves can be a source of burns. Use tongs or mitts to remove plastic films or wrappers, or to cut open microwaveable bags. Let microwaved food cool for a couple minutes before you handle it.
According to one study, between 1990 and 2008 there were an average of 1190 knife-related injuries treated in emergency departments per day in the U.S. Many of these were from pocket or utility knives, but many others were from kitchen knives. It’s no secret that knives are a source of injuries—who hasn’t sliced their hand cutting a bun or bagel, or an avocado? If you cut yourself, wash the wound to prevent infection. Dry it and dress it and seek medical attention if necessary.
To prevent cutting injuries:
- Learn basic knife skills. This can also help you cut food and prepare meals more efficiently, and with less waste.
- Know the different knives and what each is best-suited to cut. Here our Guide to Knives.
- Look up the best methods for cutting different foods. For example, avocados.
- Don’t try to cut frozen food. Let it thaw first.
- Keep your knives consistently sharp. Alternating between dull and sharp knives will make it hard to cut in the same way, and could surprise the person cutting.
- Always cut on a stable cutting board or other suitable surface that will not slide around
- Cut away from your hands and body. Never hold the item being cut in the palm of your hand.
- Store sharp knives in a block, not in a drawer.
Slipping in the kitchen is a common cause of injury. To avoid them, clean up spills as soon as possible, and don’t climb or stand on the countertop or any unstable base. If you have high cupboards or ceilings and need to replace light bulbs often, invest in a sturdy stepladder or something similar that is meant for the job. Try to keep pets and kids out of the way when you’re cooking. Of course, this is nearly impossible, but at least try to know where they are when you are working with something hot or sharp, or reaching for something on an upper shelf.
Slamming a drawer or door on your finger
This one’s painful, but unless you really slam it, your probably not looking at a major injury. To prevent it, consider installing soft-close sliding drawers and cabinet doors. And use the pull handles or grooves that come with your doors and drawers, instead of opening from the bottom or top edge.
What is your most common injury from kitchen action? Let us know in the comments and be sure to download Luvo’s 7-day meal and fitness plan for more nutrition tips and recipes.