With any activity involving kids, safety should be a top priority. We all know that it’s easy for kids to get cuts and bruises when they’re playing, but the kitchen is a place where more serious injuries can occur if you’re not careful. This is why it is so important to go over the best cooking safety practices with your kids and have the right tools on hand to avoid injuries entirely.
So, what kind of safety rules should you set in the kitchen? What are the best kitchen safety tips for kids? Finally, where can you find safe, educational cooking kits for kids, as well as kid-safe knives and utensils?
In today’s guide, we will answer all of these questions and more, but first, let’s look at the importance of setting ground rules to ensure safety in the kitchen at all times:
The Importance Of Kitchen Safety Rules
It cannot be overstated: kitchen safety is a crucial part of preventing accidents in the home. This is especially true when children are involved in the cooking process. One of the best ways to avoid injuries and provide a safe environment for everyone is setting rules ahead of time. However, just establishing rules is not enough. You’ll need to teach your kids the rules, remind them of the rules regularly, and ensure that the rules are always enforced.
Here are just a few of the reasons that kitchen safety rules are so important:
- Injury Prevention – Above all else, you want to avoid injuries in the kitchen. From heavy cast iron skillets and sharp knives to hot ovens and slippery floors, there are plenty of ways for the kitchen to become a hazardous environment for a child (or an adult). Setting rules and then reinforcing those rules can greatly reduce the risk of injury. And when it comes to personal safety, this is not one of the those situations where you want kids to “learn from their mistakes.” Instead, teach them the rules ahead of time so that you can prevent injuries before they happen.
- Responsible Cooking – Taking responsibility is a lesson that many younger kids struggle to learn. When the personal safety of your child or other people is on the line, your child needs to understand the importance of responsible and cautious cooking. This will encourage them to respect potentially dangerous tools and appliances, and hopefully develop a sense of personal accountability when working in the kitchen.
- Hygiene Education – Kitchen safety isn’t all about avoid scrapes and burns. It’s also about preparing and cooking food in a clean environment. A lack of good hygiene practices could lead to cross-contamination or serious illness for anyone who consumes poorly-prepared food.
- Safe Habits – Kids are like sponges; they absorb information quickly. If you teach them about kitchen safety now, you’re setting them up to be more responsible cooks with good safety habits.
In the next sections, we’ll look at some specific safety tips for different aspects of food preparation, cooking, and storage.
Kitchen Fire Safety
Fire safety is important for the wellbeing of your kids, your family, and even your home. Here are a few tips to help you maintain a safe environment and reduce the risk of fires or fire-related injuries:
- Never leave food that is cooking unattended. You should always keep an eye on the stove, oven, or other appliances while they’re in use.
- Store potentially flammable objects, including paper towels, oven mitts, and even certain food packaging away from heat sources.
- Try not to wear loose-fitting clothing or long sleeves while cooking. Ideally, you should wear short sleeves and an apron made of flame-retardant materials.
- Install a smoke detector in your kitchen and make sure that it is working properly.
- Always have a fire extinguisher nearby, ideally in the kitchen or within a few steps of the kitchen.
- Regularly clean your stovetop and other areas exposed to heat sources to avoid the buildup of grease or flammable food particles.
- Do not plug more than one high-wattage appliance into a single outlet.
- Be ready to turn off heat sources if you see or smell smoke.
Kitchen Knife Safety
Like fires, knives can present a huge safety risk in the kitchen. If a child has never used a knife before or is simply unaware of the danger of using knives irresponsibly, they could easily injure themselves or someone else. So, here are a few kitchen knife safety tips to teach and practice:
- Do not try to cut food on an unstable surface. If possible, use a non-slip mat or cutting board that is positioned on a firm table or countertop.
- Always hold your knives with a comfortable but firm grip, with the thumb and index finger positioned on the handle, near the base of the blade.
- Use a cutting motion that moves away from your body. Never allow the blade or tip of the knife to be pointed toward yourself or someone else while cutting.
- It is generally safer to use a slicing motion while cutting, rather than applying force downward. A strong downward push increases the risk of the knife slipping out of your hand.
- Keep your knife and cutting board clean in between uses to avoid cross-contamination.
- When not in use, store your knives in a safe place, like a knife block or even a drawer with a child safety lock.
- Never run with a knife in your hand and, if you need to move from one place to another while holding a knife, move with caution and keep the knife pointed downward.
Food Sanitation Safety
Food sanitation is an aspect of kitchen safety that often gets overlooked, especially with kids. Many parents may find it cute to see their young ones dipping their fingers in the bowl to taste cookie dough, but this is just one example of poor food sanitation that could cause an unnecessary illness. So, here are a few best practices for handling food in the kitchen:
- Before preparing food, wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Also remember to wash your hands after touching raw meat or fish. Keeping your hands clean while you cook is one of the easiest ways to avoid contamination.
- Clean the surfaces in your kitchen, including countertops, stovetops, and cutting boards.
- Make sure your cooking and eating utensils are washed thoroughly and stored properly after every use.
- Keep raw food and cooked food separate at all times, and use separate utensils and surfaces to handle each.
- Store perishable foods in the refrigerator at a temperature at or below 40°F and frozen foods in the freezer at a temperature at or below 0°F.
- When thawing certain foods, make sure to read the packaging and understand how long the foods need to be thawed prior to cooking.
- When cooking meats, poultry, or fish, use a food thermometer to see that they are reaching a safe internal temperature. This helps kill any harmful bacteria that may be present.
- Wash fruits, vegetables, and even rice prior to cooking or eating.
- Do not eat perishable foods that have been left out for more than 2 hours.
- When storing leftovers in the fridge, make sure to use a clean, airtight container. You should also try to label your containers with the date so you know whether or not the leftovers are still safe to eat.
Do you want to learn even more about kitchen safety for kids? Are you in need of high-quality kids cooking kits? If so, be sure to reach out to Kidstir today!