Thursday, April 28, 2016

"The Kitchen Presents So Many Safety Related Challenges"

Families around the world - not just in America or Canada - spend a lot of their at-home waking hours in the kitchen. It is where meals are prepared and served. Many people eat or snack there. Neighbors are entertained there, and many a sales presentation has occurred at the kitchen table. In short, it is a gathering place.

Because of the number of activities that are conducted in the kitchen and the number of people who can be in the kitchen at any one time (including visitors and guests), the kitchen takes on added importance as a focus of maintaining safety in the home.

Look at the many possible calamities and incidents that can occur in the kitchen:

  • Burns - touching hot pots and pans, getting too close to escaping steam from food or containers, touching a hot burner (gas or electric) or the oven door or shelf, eating or drinking something straight from the container when it is too hot to consume comfortably, having heated liquid splash onto the skin, spilling hot liquid or contents onto clothing or feet, using water from the faucet when it is too warm, or touching a candle or light bulb when they are lit.
  • Cuts - accidental cuts from knives and scissors, sharp edges of plastic packaging, paper cuts, sharp lids from cans, sharp or blunt animal bones while preparing meat dishes, broken or chipped glass on serving dishes or drinking glasses and cups, cracked or broken glass or ceramic cutting boards, stepping onto broken glass from something that just broke after falling onto the countertop or floor, or walking into the edge of an open cabinet door or other relatively sharp surface.
  • Bruises - walking into the corners of cabinets or countertops, hitting open appliance doors (oven, microwave, dishwasher, or refrigerator), bumping into the leg of a table or chair, or dropping a canned good or frozen item onto a hand or foot. 
  • Frostbite - handling frozen foods for too long while opening them or getting them out of the package, transferring them to other areas of the kitchen from the freezer, or working with frozen meat, fruit, or vegetables to cut them into serving-size pieces or get them ready for another step in the cooking process.
  • Falls - falling off of a step stool or ladder used to reach a higher shelf, falling off a chair while attempting to sit down and misjudging where the chair is or having the chair move out of the way, or falling when a chair leg or chair back that was providing support while seated on the chair breaks, cracks, or gives way.
  • Slips - slipping on spilled water or other liquid, slipping on a small patch of melted ice, stepping in spilled or splashed cooking oil, or slipping or tripping on food particles (raw or cooked) that have fallen to the floor and gone unnoticed.
  • Pinching - pinching the skin between two objects, or getting a finger or other part of the body partially shut into a door or drawer.
  • Over-reach - stretching to reach that top or second-to-the-top shelf, trying to remove a relatively heavy item from a higher shelf, or trying to pick up a heavy item from a low storage place and then stand with it. 

There are other safety issues in the kitchen, but it's easy to see how the kitchen leads the home in places and ways a person can become injured.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, MCSP, MIRM, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555.