GENERAL KITCHEN SAFETY




Eating Well is the Best Revenge!




Great Cooking Home

General Kitchen Safety
Food Poisoning, Spoilage and Temperature Control
Chemicals
Slips and Falls

Safety Around Knives
and Sharp Edges

Safety Around Fire
The Fat is on the Fire
Deep Fat Fryers
Burn Safety Tips
Hot Things

Recommended Cookbooks


Kitchen Equipment






General Safety Around the Kitchen

Probably the two most dangerous things around the kitchen are: Knives and Other Sharp Edges, and Fires and Other Hot Things. Both of these have their own pages. Here we will try to cover the rest of kitchen safety.

First Aid

There can always be a mistake, and someone in the kitchen, preferably you, should be trained in at least basic first aid. Contact the American Red Cross for a class or two, it is one of the most valuable things you can do for you and your friends.


Food Poisoning, Spoilage and Temperature Control

Keep foods either hot or cold. The bacteria that cause spoilage and food poisoning grow best when food is luke warm. Be especially careful with raw poultry, seafood and foods with a base of eggs, such as mayonnaise or egg salad, or bread, like stuffings or puddings.

  • Make sure the temperature in your refrigerator is 40 degrees or under. Get a good thermometer for the fridge, keep it in there where you can see it, and check it often.

  • Faulty parts located within the refrigerator can cause a temperature malfunction. Every so often do a visual inspection of the appliance and make sure everything is in order. Click here for parts if you find something broken, cracked, damaged, etc. This is an easy way to prevent food spoilage, keeping your family’s health intact.

  • Keep shrimp, lobster, oysters and such in the refrigerator on ice. Ideally, put the seafood on top of the ice, and the ice in a colander or other bowl with holes in it so that when the ice melts it can drain into another container.

  • When you want to refrigerate a hot dish, first leave it for a bit in a cool spot with the lid ajar so that it can cool down before you put it in the refrigerator. If you put a hot dish in before it cools, it will warm up the refrigerator, endangering everything else in there.

  • A soon as you have served a stuffed bird such as a turkey, remove the stuffing that is left in the bird so that it can cool down faster.

Chemicals

In addition to the foodstuffs, there are a lot of chemicals in the kitchen compliment. Here are some that are pertinent to safety:

  • Drain cleaners, bleaches and strong acids can be dangerous. Never mix different types of these products, explosions or dangerous gasses may result. Make sure these are always used strictly according to the directions on the package, and make sure that the containers are properly sealed when not in use.

  • Carbon monoxide results from incomplete burning of fuel. Monoxide poisoning can result from improperly adjusted or poorly vented gas appliances. Have your's professionally checked occasionally. Also, never use charcoal briquettes or the like to cook or heat indoors.

  • Volatiles, such as cleaning fluids, gasoline, kerosene and such are often flammable, can easily cause fires and explosions, and should never be stored in a kitchen.

  • Pesticides such as bug killers, roach poison and rodent bait should be considered dangerous. If you get them on your hands, wash them off. When you use them, make sure there is no uncovered food they can get into. Be sure they are not accessible to children or pets. Store carefully, and preferably not in the kitchen.

  • If you must store cleaning chemicals and other possibly toxic non-food items in the kitchen, always store them on shelves below foodstuffs, so if they leak, they can't get into your food.

Slips and Falls

Soapy water, grease and oils, and things like the traditional banana peel are standard in kitchens and are all slippery. Here are a couple ways to keep slips and falls to a minimum.

  • If you spill something on the floor, clean it up. Keep a mop or such handy for this purpose.

  • Often when you are working in the kitchen you are moving fast. Don't leave boxes, stools, bags of groceries or anything else out on the floor where they can trip up a fast moving cook.

  • Glazed floor tile is beautiful, but dangerous. Not only does glazed tile guarantee that anything breakable that is dropped on it will break, but a thin coating of oil or soapy water can make it slick as ice. If you have a choice, avoid glazed tile for kitchen floors.


Safety around Kitchen Electricity

Keep your eyes on the electricity in your kitchen, it can electrocute you, or burn your place down if it gets loose.

  • Keep an eye on all electrical cords. Watch for any breaks or cuts, or frayed areas where the cord passes over an edge or something has sat on it. Repair any damage you find.

  • Don't overload circuits by using multiple plugs, extension cords or the like. If you have old wiring, it is often a good idea to get it checked by a professional for load carrying capacity.

  • Don't use appliances near the sink or other water. If one falls in, it can electrocute anyone nearby. If you must have a wall socket near the sink, make sure it has a "Ground Fault Interrupter" type socket assembly.

Glass Utensils on Kitchen Burners, Explosion Danger

Something I hadn't heard of before was recently brought to my attention. I have always been wary of glass utensils over fire, but Paul Griffo says they can go off like a grenade if really badly treated. To quote him:

"It happened while we were on vacation in Florida. Our condo had electric burners. Someone left an empty glass casserole dish on the burner, which was accidentally left on. A little while later, BOOM! Thank God no one--especially none of my children--were standing close by."

Has anyone else had this happen? Thanks to Paul for the "Heads up".

Hot Glass Utensils Can Break, Wet Hot Pads Can Burn.

Here are a couple more possible hazards. The first I haven't experienced, but could spread boiling liquids around. The second I have had happen and it can really hurt.:

"Thanks for the wonderful website. I was looking up info on kitchen safety for my kids' cooking class, and your site had some terrific info...some I hadn't thought of yet. One that you might add though could be about not putting hot glass dishes on cold or wet surfaces....such as a hot coffee pot on a cold surface. It'll break almost every time. Another one to avoid, which I have personally made the mistake of doing, is not using a damp/wet potholder to pick up something hot. Doing so will get you steam-burned. Thanks. Keep up the great work!
Mrs. Valerie Livengood"


Pay attention to what you are doing. Fire, flammables and food deserve your attention and respect!

I would like to see you add one additional safety item to kitchen cooking if I may be of help to this please. The following is what I would like to see added.

While cooking on the stove pay attention to what is cooking and don't sit on a computer or telephone in another room. Many fires develop this way and can be prevented if only the cook was paying attention to what was happening on the stove.

Thank you,
Allen Melvin

Let me second this heartily! Bruce



Another warning, this one from "The Dining Diva"-

Great website! I was looking at your site seeking kitchen safety tips. One of my friends received very severe burns on her arm, shoulder, head, and face from heating water in a microwave. She was doing this in an uncovered tupperware container (as she had done many times) , microwaving for 4 minutes. Inadvertently, she nuked it a second time for 4 minutes. When she opened the door up and reached for it, the water exploded all over her! She said it felt like a bomb exploding and hitting her on the head. Do you know of any books that mention these types of dangers? Fortunately, her grandchildren were in another room. As a culinary professional myself, I feel there is a real need to get this information out, and other hidden dangers in the kitchen and home. Please let me know if you know of any good resource for this type of information.

Happy New Year!

Molly Fowler
The Dining Diva
832-541-9819

Thanks Molly. This is an interesting phenomenon, and I am not sure anyone knows just how it happens. My best guess is that it has to do with the fact that microwaves heat substances unevenly, and relatively pure water has few nucleating sites for steam to begin at, so it can superheat in places when it is over miked. All is peaceful until the superheated water is disturbed, and then the superheated parts flash to steam, throwing the rest of the hot water out, a la geyser. Dangerous.

Another good reason not to heat water in the mike in plastic containers is that plastic has lots of different compounds in it, and microwaving it tends to drive some of them out into the water. Not a lot is known about the effects of many of these compounds, but some have been shown to be deleterious in animal studies. The ones that would worry me the most are probably the phthalates, which are added to plastics as softeners, and some of which have been shown to mimic estrogen related compounds.

If you have to heat your water in a mike, use glass or porcelain containers, and be careful not to overmike it. Bruce


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