We’ve all heard the old adage: if you burn your hand on the stove, you’ll know not to touch it again. In fact the kitchen, which is usually fitted with a stove, electric appliances, sharp knives, and other hazards, can be a dangerous place. It doesn’t have to be, however. By taking some steps to improve kitchen safety, you can protect family and friends from danger in one of the busiest rooms in the house.
- Consider safety from the moment you begin designing your kitchen: Think about what areas will have high foot traffic (entrances and exits, and the area in front of the refrigerator, for example) and make sure cooking appliances and sharp kitchen implements are placed at a distance from these areas. Storage spaces for knives and other sharp implements should be out of reach for children.
- Install proper lighting: Good lighting is an important part of any safety effort. In the kitchen, proper task lighting will help cooks focus on work surfaces and avoid injury. Consider under-cabinet lighting for counter surfaces, and avoid glare and shadows wherever food preparation takes place.
- Avoid sharp corners: Choose countertops and kitchen islands that have rounded corners.
- Install microwave ovens at an appropriate height: You don’t want anyone, especially children, to have to stand on their toes or reach awkwardly to retrieve food or liquids from a microwave oven.
- Have a fire extinguisher handy: According to
FireExtinguisher101.com, having a fire extinguisher in the kitchen will help contain most grease fires. Don’t put the fire extinguisher near the stove, where it might be out of reach in the case of a stovetop fire. Place it near the door, where you’ll have easy access. The Home Safety Council
lists specific steps that should be taken in the case of pan fires, oven fires, and toaster oven or microwave fires.
- Avoid slippage: If you’re renovating your kitchen, consider using slip-resistant flooring such as matte-finished wood or laminate, soft-glazed ceramic tile, or textured vinyl. Throw rugs with nonskid backing will help avoid slipping on all floor surfaces.
HelpfulKitchenTips.com recommends that skid-free kitchen mats or rugs be placed in front of the sink, range, countertop, and refrigerator.
- Avoid contact between water and electrical switches, plugs, and lighting fixtures: Building codes mandate that electrical receptacles be grounded and protected with ground-fault circuit interrupters. Wall-mounted room controls should be placed 15” to 48” above the finished floor.
- Install a safe cooktop: The professionals who staff the
Atherton Appliance & Kitchens and
BSC Culinary showrooms can advise you about the safety aspects of different styles of cooktops. Thermador’s induction cooktops, for example, feature an anti-overflow system that detects spills and boil-overs by automatically shutting down and sounding an alarm if liquid is detected on the cooking surface.
- Install water-temperature regulators: Anti-scald devices on faucets will prevent water temperature from reaching dangerously hot levels. Pressure-balanced valves equalize hot and cold water, and some faucets can be preprogrammed to a desired temperature setting.
- Consider slide-out trays and bins: If it is easy to reach commonly used kitchen tools, the chance is smaller that you’ll injure yourself by falling, twisting into uncomfortable positions, or banging into things while searching for something you need. Talk to us about slide-out trays, bins, and other organizational additions that will help you organize cabinets and drawers.
If you have a well-designed kitchen, follow safety advice, and talk to children and guests about important safety rules, your kitchen will be a safer room for everyone.