If you talk to any of my friends, you would very quickly learn about my kitchen “expertise”. I’ve made a beautiful apple pie (set on fire in the oven), a gorgeous birthday cake (salt substituted for sugar), and my personal favorite, pasta al dente (so stuck to the pan, that we just threw it out; yes, I mean the pan). I can’t even step into the kitchen without a meal getting ruined, even when I’m not the one cooking it. Not only am I the Top Chef of disasters, but I’m also ridiculously accident-prone. My friends love to tell the story where our George Foreman grill and I got into a fight. I lost. Kitchens are a dangerous place and not just for people like me, so here are some quick safety tips for the clumsy kid in us all:
1. Don’t leave the kitchen with pots & pans cooking on the stove. It’s also a good idea to turn off the stove immediately after you move a pot. Accidentally touching those babies will make your victory of successfully making Mac and cheese for the first time slightly less sweet.
2. Avoid wearing inappropriate clothing while cooking. Have you ever tried cooking bacon in a tube top? That’s one mistake I’ll never make again.
3. Keep dishtowels, potholders and oven mitts away from the stove. They catch fire quicker than the food in the oven.
4. Keep matches and lighters in high places out of reach of curious little hands. On that same note, never leave the room or house if you’re burning a candle. Your friends will not be happy with you.
5. Keep a fire extinguisher in or near the kitchen. You and your roommates will regret it if you don’t.
6. Keep emergency numbers handy – 911 is easy to remember, but phone numbers to Poison Control aren’t as widely known. Trust me, if your cooking is as bad as mine, people will want this number close by.
7. Scalding is one of the most common injuries in the kitchen (see bacon story). Make sure to turn pot handles away from the front of the stove so nothing gets overturned accidentally. Scalding can occur from hot steam as well. Be careful when lifting lids from hot food and opening your Lean Cuisine bag.
8. Handling Knives: (a) Always cut away from your body when using a knife. It can slip and cut you, (b) Always use a cutting board, (c) Protect your counter tops, (d) Keep blades sharp, (e) Keep knives clean (including handle) – slippery handles can cause injuries, (f) Don’t put knives in a sink of soapy water – they may not be seen and accidents will occur, (g) Wash and dry carefully keeping sharp edge away from your hands, (h) Always lay them flat, never on the back or edge, (i) Don’t attempt to catch a knife as it falls – better it hits the floor than cut your hand, (j) Wash knives with warm soapy water after each use. My roommates won’t let me touch knifes any more but I feel like these are all good ideas.
9. Never stick a fork in a toaster to retrieve trapped toast –it’s not worth it. NOT WORTH IT I TELL YOU.
10. Always be sure the blender, or any other appliance with swirly blades is unplugged before touching it. Also, make sure the lid is on before you blend anything. Mopping the ceiling sounds fun but is actually exhausting.
11. Casualness causes casualties – don’t answer or talk on the phone while cooking – trust me, telling your mom about the squirrel you saw won’t be nearly as important when you overturn that pot of spaghetti sauce on to your bare feet.
These are some very simple tips we can all follow to make sure that we stay safe in the kitchen. Happy cooking and be careful! Credit: Photo by Jordon Nordholm