It wouldn’t be the holiday season without family, friends and food. Family gatherings are often “kitchen gatherings.” We gather there to help in food preparation and to socialize, but it can be a very dangerous place for children.
Below are 10 holiday safety cooking tips from Beaumont nurse and trauma prevention coordinator Donna Bucciarelli:
- As an everyday habit, but especially during holiday meal preparation, the entire kitchen or at a minimum, three to four feet around the stove and oven area, should be a no-kid zone to avoid burn and scald injuries.
- Boiling pots should be kept on back burners.
- All pot and pan handles should be turned toward the back of the stove.
- Children and pets should be in another room when transporting boiling pots or hot pans from the stove or oven to a sink or countertop. Carrying hot, heavy utensils away from the body can impair the cook’s ability to see in front of them, risking a trip and fall or burn/scald injury if their path is not clear.
- If pots or roasters are too full to move safely, remove some of the hot liquid with a ladle or baster before lifting and moving. Make sure that the space that you are moving it to is large enough; hot pots and pans should not be too close or even slightly hanging off of a counter or table. In addition to the risk of burns and scalds, liquid spills are a primary reason for slip and fall injuries. While hot water can be carefully and quickly cleaned up, a greasy spill remains a hazard until a thorough cleaning is performed.
- Avoid overcrowding the cooking area to reduce risk of fire. Food packaging, wooden spoons, dish towels or paper towels, potholders or oven mitts and plastic wrap or containers should be kept at last 12 inches away from cooktop burners or flames.
- Cooks should wear short, tight-fitting or rolled sleeves to avoid clothing catching fire and burns when reaching over the stove area.
- In the dining area, be careful with tablecloths and young children. For many, holiday gatherings bring out beautiful table settings, family china and glassware. A crawling infant or rambunctious toddler could give a strong tug to a corner or edge of a tablecloth and send heavy dishes, hot foods and breakable glass on to them or to the floor risking head injuries, burns or skin cuts.
- Children are not safe playing under the table where they could be accidentally kicked or little fingers could be crushed by adult feet. In addition, to accommodate larger groups of holiday gatherers, table leafs or hinged extensions are often used. Release hardware for these extensions is usually located under the table, and may attract curious little fingers, causing a partial table collapse.
- Supervision is always the most effective way to avoid unintentional injuries of children. When families gather together from near and far to socialize and enjoy each other’s company during the holidays, it is important to know, and sometimes formally determine, who is watching the kids. When “everyone” is watching the children, no one is actually watching them. Cold weather holiday gatherings, because the outdoor risks of wandering off, traffic, grilling or pool hazards are eliminated, sometimes give parents a sense of greater safety. The same adventurous, curious and energetic nature of children that contributes to their learning can also contribute to their making unsafe decisions, because of their lack of experiential judgment, if they are not properly supervised.