Where kitchens were once secluded rooms at the back of their home, their value as a place of family interaction and entertainment has seen them become a more central feature.
While this re-positioning is excellent for increasing a home’s value, it poses more concerns for families with young kids. Sharp objects, hazardous materials, kitchen cabinets, and more present severe threats to little ones. But these dangers can be avoided by implementing a few safety measures.
General Safety Tips
- Supervision is key: Children should never be left alone in the kitchen, especially when using appliances or handling hot or sharp objects. Parents and caregivers should always be present and keep a close eye on children when they are in the kitchen to ensure their safety.
- Create a designated safe zone: Establish a designated safe space for children to play and be active, away from the kitchen and any potential hazards. This could be a separate playroom or living area, or simply an area of the kitchen that is out of bounds for children. This will help to minimize the risk of accidents and keep children safe while they are in the kitchen.
- Child-friendly appliances and utensils: use appliance and utensils that are age-appropriate for children to use. For example, consider using plastic knives for younger children, or providing them with their own set of cooking utensils.
- Teach kitchen safety: educate children about kitchen safety from a young age, including the dangers of hot surfaces, sharp objects, and cleaning products. Show them how to properly use appliances and utensils, and remind them of the importance of being cautious in the kitchen.
- Have a plan for emergency: be prepared for potential accidents and emergencies, and teach your children what to do in case of an emergency in the kitchen. Establish a safe exit strategy, and make sure your children know where the fire extinguisher, first aid kit, and phone are located.
Setting the Ground Rules
All children need boundaries, whether it’s teaching them about social interactions, getting them to bed on time, or ensuring they brush their teeth. And learning about the home is no different.
You need to set the ground rules with your kids with regard to the kitchen. It must be instilled that the kitchen is not a play area and that there are many ways they can get hurt in the kitchen.
They should always be accompanied by an adult and never attempt to make anything themselves without supervision.
Instructing Children about Kitchen Cabinet Safety
An often overlooked area is kitchen cabinets which are always tempting for those curious little ones.
If you have older kitchen cabinets, you might want to consider hiring a company that can repair or remodel your cabinets, so they’re not a hazard. Sturdier wood cabinets are less likely to be opened, but even these can pose a risk of getting fingers slammed.
The contents of the kitchen cabinets can also pose a threat. In addition to upgrading your cabinets, you should consider baby-proof cabinet and drawer mechanisms and anchoring any standalone cabinets if they’re not built-in.
Teaching Children about Heavy and Sharp Objects
The kitchen houses all manner of heavy equipment and sharp objects, so it’s vital your kids can’t access these.
For example, heavy pots or pans, as well as knives, forks, scissors, and more, need to be kept securely in a kitchen cabinet or out of reach from young hands.
Other objects you need to consider are drinking glasses, plates and bowls, food processors, and other equipment with sharp blades.
Don’t Forget About Climbing Hazards
Some children are innate climbers, whether out on the playground or inside the home.
The kitchen has many interesting objects, and children will undoubtedly try to reach them by climbing chairs or stools. Make sure these are kept safely tucked under tables.
It’s a great idea to involve your toddler in food preparation, but remember never to leave them standing unattended on a chair or sitting on a kitchen counter.
If you need to prepare the family meal and are concerned, you could consider moving a playpen nearby.
Keeping Children Safe Around The Oven
It takes a matter of seconds for a fire to become a real danger, and there are many ways to start a fire in the kitchen. The first step is to check that your oven and stove are all functional and that you have a fire extinguisher in the kitchen.
Your oven seal must be in good order, and you will need to monitor how hot it gets if the child is in the kitchen.
Likewise, if you’re cooking with your child nearby, always use the stove’s back burners and turn the handles away, as many accidents have occurred when a child reaches up for the pot or pan.
You can also place childproof covers on the knobs, and stove guards are also a good investment.
Considering Chemicals in The Kitchen
According to a White House Proclamation during National Poison Prevention Week in 2022, an average of 31 children die in the United States every year due to home poisonings.
In addition, a further 75 000 children aged five and below were taken to the emergency room to get treated for poisoning, with 85% of cases a result of accessing harmful chemicals and poisons in the home.
The cleaning products pose a genuine danger to young children, so you must keep these securely locked away, out of sight, and out of reach.
Other things to consider are electrical appliances and rubbish bins containing harmful items. If possible, you could erect a baby safety gate to prevent access to the kitchen as well.
Helping Kids Be Safe With Food Prep
- Sharp utensils: children should never be allowed to use knives or other sharp utensils without adult supervision. Parents and caregivers should teach children about the dangers of sharp utensils and the importance of handling them carefully.
- Proper food handling techniques: Children should be taught about the importance of washing their hands before and after handling food, as well as proper food handling techniques such as keeping raw meat separate from other foods to avoid cross-contamination.
- Hot food handling: Children should be also taught about how to handle hot foods and liquids safely, using oven mitts or tongs and how to test the temperature before consuming it.
- Cooking with children: Cooking with children can be a fun and educational experience, but parents and caregivers should make sure that children are supervised and understand the safety guidelines while they are preparing food.
- Food allergies: Parents and caregivers should be aware of any food allergies their children may have and take the necessary precautions to prevent accidental ingestion of allergenic foods.
By following these specific safety tips for food prep, parents and caregivers can help ensure that their children are safe while handling food in the kitchen. Teaching children about the dangers of knives and other sharp utensils, and discussing proper food handling techniques such as washing hands and keeping raw meat separate from other foods, can help prevent accidents and promote safe and healthy eating habits.
The kitchen can be a wonderful place for families to bond and create memories, but it is also an area with many potential hazards. Parents and caregivers have a responsibility to keep their children safe while they are in the kitchen.
By following the tips outlined in this article, such as supervising children at all times, creating a designated safe zone, teaching children about proper appliance and food prep use, and encouraging cleanup, parents and caregivers can help ensure that their children are safe in the kitchen.
Additionally, keeping an open line of communication and taking the time to educate children on kitchen safety can help them become confident, responsible and safe cooks.
Ensuring your child’s safety in the kitchen is a ongoing process, but small steps can lead to long-term benefits.