Wednesday, November 22, 2017

"Thanksgiving Day Should Be A Safe Celebration"

Many countries celebrate a day of thanksgiving - in Canada it was last month, and in America it is tomorrow. There will be a lot of activity in the kitchen. Except for the dining room which is where all of the preparation and feasting is focused, the kitchen will be the center of activity.

The kitchen typically is an area where many things are occurring - often simultaneously - but on a day of celebration such as Thanksgiving Day, the amount of activity is increased. Here, there is greeting of guests, snacking, cooking, preparation, cleanup, post-meal storage of uneaten food ("leftovers"), and a higher number of people who will be in the kitchen at any one time (including visitors and guests). Thus, the kitchen takes on added importance as a focus of maintaining safety in the home. This is true in our homes as well as those of our clients.

This is supposed to be a fun day, a family day, and a day of celebration. It shouldn't be ruined or diminished by a mishap or more serious incident. Nevertheless, there are so many possible calamities and accidents that can occur in the kitchen.

With all of the cooking going into preparing the feast, burns are a distinct possibility, regardless of someone's age - 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.

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 can happen.

While not breaking the skin, bruises can occur from 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. 

Uncomfortable but not usually serious is frostbite from 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 can be quite dangerous and can occur from falling off of a step stool or ladder used to reach a higher shelf, a chair while attempting to sit down and misjudging where the chair is or having the chair move out of the way, or when a chair leg or chair back that was providing support while seated on the chair breaks, cracks, or gives way.

Slipping on spilled water or other liquid or 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 can lead to falls also.

Pinching the skin between two objects or getting a finger or other part of the body partially shut into a door or drawer can be uncomfortable and potentially break the skin.

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 can lead to muscle pulls or strains. 

There are other safety issues in the kitchen, but it's easy to see how the kitchen can be a dangerous place even while we are in a time of celebration. Let's be careful!

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging In Place Specialist - Master Instructor and best-selling author of aging in place books. To learn about this and other programs for aging in place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555. Also, check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.