November 26, 2016
Kitchen Safety for Kids
Most children love to help their parents in the kitchen, especially when they’re presented with delicious end results that they’ve had a part in creating. It’s true…your children will be more likely to try and enjoy new foods if they take an active role in making meals. However, it’s extremely important to make sure that your children observe the safety rules of the kitchen – a trip to the emergency room is never a welcome excursion. Follow these helpful tips for keeping your children involved and excited about learning to cook while keeping them safe. Give Your Kids the Guided Tour Before you allow your children to help you in the kitchen, give them a full tour of the room and let them know which objects are safe and which are not. Explain where the stove gets hot, what the oven does, what items are put in the refrigerator or freezer and what items they should never, ever touch unless you tell them they may. Indicate which items need to be kept away from water, such as toasters and other small appliances. Pay Attention Supervision is key when your children are in the kitchen, especially when they are younger. Never leave a child alone in the kitchen – even to take a bathroom break or answer a phone call. It’s better to interrupt your process by turning off a burner or even sacrificing your creation than to have to deal with a serious injury. Handles not turned inward can cause hot product to spill, pots can boil over, overcooked food can smoke, fires can start in an instant and spills can cause slip and fall injuries. Many kitchen accidents are prevented by simply being aware of your surroundings and your child’s activities at all times. Teach Food Safety Instruct your children to never eat raw meats, poultry, eggs or cookie batter. Wash all surfaces touched by raw meats and poultry thoroughly and explain to your children why this is necessary. Keep raw and cooked foods separate. Never place cooked food on a plate or dish that has held raw food, unless the serving surface has been carefully washed and dried. Wash your hands thoroughly and often to prevent cross-contamination. Explain why fingers and tools should never be licked while food is being prepared, and be ready to set a good example for them! Show AND Tell When it comes to operating kitchen tools, even those as simple as ladles and tongs, don’t just assume that children know what they’re used for, even if they’ve seen you use them. Demonstrate their uses carefully, explaining as you go exactly how you handle them. Start children off with simple tools that can’t hurt them, such as ice cream scoops, mixing spoons and flour sifters. Move along slowly to more treacherous tools, but only when your child has demonstrated some ability in the kitchen. Sharp knives and mechanized kitchen appliances should never be used by young children. Older children should use them only under close supervision. Knives, glassware and other sharp or breakable items should never be submerged in sinks full of water – it’s easy to be injured by blades or breakage. Dress the Part Encourage your children to wear aprons. Not only will their clothes be protected from stains and spills, they’ll have extra protection from heated water or splattering oil. Make sure short sleeves are worn, or that long sleeves are pushed up beyond the elbow. Longer sleeves can catch fire or be dipped in boiling liquids. Fire Safety Make sure your children always use hot pads or oven mitts, never folded or bunched towels. Towels can easily catch fire when brushed against heating elements. Quiz them on the location of the fire extinguisher, and outline the steps for using it. Coach them on how to put out a grease fire, and teach them how to call 911. Remind them to never put metal objects or tools into the microwave oven. Clean Up Your Act Show children how to ‘clean as they go’ – to wash mixing bowls while a batch of cookies is in the oven, or to load the dishwasher while water boils or some broth for soup simmers. Not only does this speed cleanup at the end, it promotes kitchen safety. Teach them how to thoroughly clean a cutting board with warm, soapy water. Stress the importance of changing hand towels, dish towels, dish cloths and sponges regularly. Also, as tempting as it may be to have them around, keep pets out of the kitchen when food is being prepared. Tackle Basic First Aid Don’t panic when an accident occurs. It is inevitable – it will happen sooner or later. Keep your child calm. Explain how to run a burn under cool water or how to dress a small cut with a bandage. If an accident is more serious, get help immediately by calling 911 or heading for the nearest urgent care center or emergency room – but stay in control at all times. Last but not least…be patient with your children. Sure, you can get the job done much more quickly without their help, but guiding them through the food preparation process will instill in them a love for cooking that will serve them well their entire lives. Let them make mistakes, make messes and make masterpieces!