Tag Archives: kitchen safety

Teaching Older Kids to Use Kitchen Knives Safely

I love to cook with my kids.  I was in the kitchen with one of my older girls the other day, and she asked if she could cut an onion for a soup I was making. Her technique scared me a bit, and I realized I needed to teach her how to properly use a kitchen knife.  I used to work as a sous chef for a while after college.  How well I learned to cook is debatable, but I did become pretty proficient at using a knife.  Here are a few tips:

  • Use a good, sturdy cutting board.  Keep it from slipping by using a board with non-slip feet, or put a wet towel or non-slip mat underneath.
  • Never cut food that you’re holding in your hand – place it and cut it on the cutting board..
  • Keep knives sharp – dull knives are more likely to slip and accidentally cause an injury
  • Secure the food with your opposite hand, and tuck your fingers to form a “claw” – your fingers should be straight up and down and can be used to guide the knife.  Here’s a picture of the technique.
  • Use a cutting board with plenty of space, and try to keep the tip of the knife in contact with the board as you chop.
  • Keep knives away from the edge of a counter top, and if a knife falls DO NOT try to catch it.
  • A good tool for kids to use at first is a double handled half moon knife (Mezzaluna).  This can only be used for chopping, but its design keeps stray fingers out of the way of the blade.
  • Always have adult supervision until you’re completely comfortable that a child can use a knife safely.

Here’s a good video that does a good job showing these techniques.  Stay safe and have fun cooking with your kids.

Fire Belongs in the Hearth This Holiday Season!

The holiday season  in the United States of America is close at hand, a time when families will gather in homes across the country–and think of our loved ones who may be far away or absent, give thanks for what we have, invite others into our homes, and cook and serve some great food dishes.  For some families, it is a time of football rivalries and parade watching. For many young mothers and fathers, it’s a bit stressful trying to keep family traditions going while managing children and guests and preparing the holiday meal at the same time.

Childsafetyblog.org wants to remind parents that amid all the planning and preparation over the holidays they shouldn’t lose sight of safety, especially fire safety.  This week in a local SafeKids Coalition meeting, we learned that the numbers of home fires throughout the year in the U.S. spike to three times the norm over the Thanksgiving holiday.   Everyone needs to be concerned about the increased odds that there could be a fire in our own communities and neighborhoods, not to mention in our own homes, if we don’t pay attention to some fire safety basics.

Below are some good, basic safety tips for the holidays to help avoid fires and burns while cooking, including some from Underwriters Laboratories:

  • Un-clutter the stove top. Try to keep your stove top clear of too many dishes, pots, and pans.  That’s difficult considering you may be cooking for the great horde–possibly make a few things ahead… refrigerate and re-heat.
  • We’ve noted this previously but it bears repeating:

DO NOT HOLD A CHILD IN ONE ARM WHILE COOKING WITH THE OTHER!

  • Do not pour water on a hot greasy pot or pan–it may splatter right back in your face!  Cool the pan first before immersing it in warm water.
  • Never pour water on a grease fire!  Turn off the burner, using an oven mitt place a lid on the burning pan to smother the flames and let the pan cool completely before touching it!
  • Avoid using a turkey fryer at all cost!  While frying turkeys has become popular in recent years, doing so has become one of the most typical factors in fires and burns at Thanksgiving.  If you don’t believe this and need more convincing, please check out the following video on YouTube (it pretty much tells the story): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JHD61SGufqM
  • Never place a glass casserole dish or lid on a stove or over a burner!  It may explode and send shards of glass flying in all directions.
  • Always stay in the kitchen while the food is cooking!  Have someone else periodically inform you of the game’s scores if you’re not near the TV!
  • If you are using electrical appliances to prepare your holiday meals, such as slow cookers, electric carving knives, food processors and other peripheral cooking appliances, like hot plates, juicers, blenders, etc., look for the UL markon the appliance. Manufacturers use the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) mark to indicate that the electrical appliance meets specific safety standards.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher handy in the kitchen–and know how to use it! Remember: PASS… Pull, Aim, Squeeze and Sweep!  Pull the pin, aim the nozzle, squeeze the nozzle and sweep the spray back and forth while aiming at the base of the fire!
  • Never wear loose clothing while cooking! 
  • Never lean over a stove burner when it is on or hot!
  • Never pass a hot dish or pitcher of hot liquid over a child’s head or hands!
  • Turn all pot and pan handles away from you
  • Make sure there are good batteries in your smoke alarms! (We hope you did this, when you set your clocks back an hour a couple of weeks ago. If you didn’t, do it now!)
  • Unplug small appliances which are not in use. You’ll save energy and eliminate the possibility they will automatically come on and overheat without your knowledge.

As always, Childsafetyblog.org wishes you a safe and happy holiday season.

Child Safety in the Kitchen

It’s the holiday season, and families are coming together from near and far.  Almost without fail, we all tend to congregate in the kitchen.   Certainly people are attracted to the wonderful smells and holiday treats, but it’s more than that – the kitchen table instinctively seems to be a gathering place for friends and family.

It’s also a fun place for kids.  Sweets are often there for the taking, and it’s fun for children to help out with cooking and baking projects.  Cooking with Jane and Libby is one of my favorite activities to do together, and they are having fun learning a skill that they can enjoy for a lifetime (and they also get to taste the sugar).  In addition to making our time in the kitchen fun, there are a few simple precautions that can keep them safe, as well.  Go to the next page for a few tips on how to keep kids safe while they’re in the kitchen.

Child safety tips for the kitchen:

1)  Keep the handle of pots on stove turned inwards.  Scaldings from pots that are tipped over present the greatest danger of serious injuries in the kitchen.  65% of burn injuries to children under four who are hospitalized are the result of scalding.  Toddlers and young children are naturally curious, and are unable to look out for their own safety.  These accidents can happen in seconds, so make sure to develop the habit of turning pot handles inwards.

2)  Purchase a stove guard to prevent young hands from reaching up towards the stove.

3)  If children are standing on a chair or stool to help with a project, make sure they are far enough away from the stove so that they can’t tip and fall onto it.

4)   If children are old enough to be working at the stove, make sure they do not wear clothing that is too loose fitting — be especially careful of sleeves that hang down.

5)  Keep knives stored safely out of reach of young children.  When children do become old enough to responsibly use knives, teach them safe handling techniques.  If you need a refresher course on how to safely handle and use kitchen knives, click here.

6)  Practice and teach safe food handling techniques.  Use different cutting boards (or separate sides of the same board) for meats and produce.  After handling poultry, thoroughly wash your hands, any utensils that touched the meat, and all cutting boards.

7)  Finally, pick projects that are age appropriate.  This tip is more for fun than for safety.  Baking is probably more fun for young kids than cooking.  The projects are fairly quick, and children can participate in simple ways, such as helping add ingredients that have already been measured.  Kids also have fun tasting the finished product.

Here’s a good link for childproofing a kitchen.

Have fun — if you have any questions, comments or suggestions, add them below, or email me, Bryan Slaughter, at bryan@childsafetyblog.org,  Thanks, and have a happy and safe holiday season.