This article is written with children in mind but much of the advice applies to adults as well. Accidents in the home - especially in the kitchen - can be avoided if you apply several commonsense measures. My first and central tip would be: if at all possible, keep children out of the kitchen when you are cooking. OK, I know, this is much easier said than done!
When my son Lucas first started to walk, one of the areas of the house we kept him out of was the kitchen. Instead of closing the door - in fact there was no door - we put a low gate across the doorway so that he and I could still communicate while I was working in the kitchen and he was playing in the living room. The theory was that I could keep an eye on him while I was cooking without having him under my feet, and he could feel reassured that I was within reach if he needed me.
This, not surprisingly, only worked up to a point: I would manage to get things done in short bursts while he was distracted. For much of the time the kitchen became a sort of mini war-zone, with the gate standing in for a barbed-wire fence and yours truly under bombardment by an assortment of weapons of mass destruction, including Lucas's cuddly bunnies, building blocks (ouch!) and what seemed like the entire toy farm animal collection.
There came a point, some time after the age of two in Lucas's case, when it became difficult to bar him from such a focal point in the household. If I think about it, I also didn't exactly want to discourage Lucas from showing an interest in kitchen activities. After all, we have high hopes for the next generation of male gourmets! So - once the peace treaty was signed and our version of the Berlin Wall came down, Lucas was allowed selective access to the kitchen but this meant taking several precautions. As ever, prevention is at least as important as the cure.
Some common sense tips for prevention of accidents in the kitchen:
- *Cleaning fluids - detergents, bleach and other chemicals - have to be kept away from children's reach. If you have these in a floor-level cabinet you must install a childproof lock.
- *Knives, scissors and other sharp items also have to be stored out of reach, or in a drawer with a childproof lock. When in use, they must be kept well away from the edge of the work surfaces. The same goes for containers with fluids of any sort, especially if they are hot.
*Spices and condiments are best kept in the top cabinets.
- *It may also be practical to install childproof fridge locks and protective panels over the cooker's controls.
- *When cooking, always keep pan handles turned inwards, so that a child cannot reach up and knock them over. In reality a child should never be allowed near the cooker when it is in use, but we all know this cannot always be enforced.
- *Keep matches and lighters well out of reach.
- *If there is a gas mains switch, turn it off when the cooker is not in use.
- *In the Dominican Republic we have the additional factor of frequent power cuts which - along with all the other inconveniences - can cause fridges to leak water, creating slippery floors. Keep a floor-cloth on the floor by the fridge to mop up the leakage. Children should be discouraged from opening the fridge because of the danger of power surges.
This is by no means a complete list. Please send us more kitchen safety suggestions to share with all our readers.