If you are a parent, chances are you had an experience where one of your kids had a near miss incident in the kitchen. Or worse.
It is an unfortunate fact that there are items and appliances in almost any kitchen that could cause harm.
To get guidance on how to make your kitchen safer for your kids, just keep on reading!
In this article I will discuss:
The health and safety of our kids is the primary responsibility of us as parents.
Given the curious nature of kids, it is understandable that accidents are bound to happen.
Hundreds of people, both adults and children, are injured in the kitchen every year.
The majority of these injuries are burns and cuts.
When you are in your kitchen, stand still for a while and have a good look around.
Do you see all the hazards?
Every kitchen has items that could cause some serious injuries.
These items include knives, kettles, toasters and even water dispensers!
It is therefore critical that you systematically go through your whole kitchen and identify these hazards.
Thereafter you should take steps to either elliminate or mitigate them.
Hazards in the kitchen
This guide serves as a checklist of most hazards in kitchens and includes some suggestions on how to address them.
A knife is probably the first item that comes to mind when you think of dangerous items in the kitchen.
The dangers they pose are pretty straightforward. Cutting and puncturing.
Knives in your kitchen are supposed to be sharp. Really sharp.
It’s no fun trying to cut a butternut with a dull knife. In fact, it’s actually risky.
With your knives as sharp as they are supposed to be, you definitely don’t want them falling into the wrong little hands.
You also don’t want your favourite pairing knife sitting on the top shelf where you need a stepladder just to reach it.
The best way to store your knives is in a knife block that sits on the counter and up against the back wall.
Turn it sideways so it’s flat against the wall. It should preferably be on the countertop that is the deepest.
That way you maximise the distance from the floor while still keeping them within your reach.
There are locking knife blocks available.
They have a button that you need to press or a lever that you need to pull to release the knife.
Most kitchens have a kettle. It is the first appliance most people turn on in the morning.
A day is off to a great start when done with a good cup a joe!
Unfortunately, kettles are also a hazard when it comes to kids.
That’s because there is electricity and boiling water involved.
As mentioned earlier, burning is one of the main causes of injuries in the home and boiling water is one of the major culprits.
Just think, how many times do you put the kettle on and go do other things while leaving it switched on, unattended, waiting for it to boil?
Or you boil water, use whatever you need and put the kettle back onto its stand with the excess boiling water still inside.
It is very easy for children to accidentally get their hands on the kettle and tip it over.
Most modern kettles have a boil-dry protection feature. But in older kettles there is the risk that kids may switch on an empty kettle.
Another hazzard is the stand of a cordless kettle.
It is really easy for a child to stick a thin metal object into the contact slots when the kettle is off the stand.
The earth tripswitch on the switchboard is supposed to trip when something like this happens.
But do you want to take that chance and put your faith in an electrical switch?
The first and easiest thing to do to reduce these hazards is to move the kettle to a position on the counter where it is harder to reach.
It should preferably be in a spot where the steam of the kettle when boiling will not come into contact with anything like for example the underside of the countertop cupboards.
The second easy fix is to flick the switch at the wall socket when you are done with the kettle.
It will only take you a second but it can prevent a serious accident.
The biggest risk with a toaster is the exposed heat elements inside when it is switched on.
They are live electrical coils that can cause electric shock.
We all were probably told sometime in our lives not to stick anything metal into a toaster.
The easiest way to reduce the risk is to be present when you use the toaster. Don’t leave it unattended.
The second thing to do is to switch off the wall socket when you are done toasting. It is even better to unplug the toaster when it is not being used.
Oven and cooktop
Most kitchens have an oven and a stovetop or a range.
They are a bit of a challenge because they are bulky and it’s impractical to move them to where kids won’t be able to reach them.
Their controls are also sitting pretty low, well within reach of a curious toddler.
It is better if it’s a cooktop or range that has the controls on top instead of on the front.
The biggest risk associated with stoves, ovens and ranges is burning.
You can prevent that by not leaving the appliance unattended when it is switched on.
Is is unfortunately so that many different dishes require long cooking and baking times.
It is only logical that you will not be able to stand in front of the switched on appliance all the time.
So instead of trying not to leave the appliance unattended, put in effort not to leave the kids unattended.
At least not until the dish is done. Let them help you with other small tasks in the kitchen where you can keep a close eye on them. Or go play with them somewhere else.
Then, when the dish is done, switch off the stove or oven and keep the kids away until it has cooled down to a safe temperature.
Use the child lock feature when not in use. If it does not have such a feature, buy some of these stove knob covers.
That will prevent a child from accidentally switching on the appliance.
You also get a stove guard, a device that keeps children away from the burners.
It is also a good habit to keep the handles of cookware facing to the back while you are cooking.
That keeps the hot pots and pans just a bit further away from any children that may be around.
Many of us keep most of our cleaning chemicals under the sink.
It is just handy and closeby that way. Unfortunately that also makes them very accessible to kids.
The easiest fix for that is to move all the chemicals to a cupboard that kids don’t have access to.
If that is unpractical, and you prefer having all those chemicals there where they are, just keep the cupboard locked or get a decent child lock.
The dishwasher may not seem like a dangerous appliance.
And it isn’t.
Yes it could be accidentally switched on but that is not the end of the world.
The risk is the pots, pans and utensils, mostly knives, that are sitting inside the dishwasher.
The best is to keep an eye on it while it’s busy with it’s washing cycle.
And when it’s done, unpack it as soon as possible.
Hygiene is something that is not always touched on in discussions about hazards in the kitchen.
Spills left for long enough can harbour pathogens that can cause serious illnesses.
Therefore it is important to keep your kitchen clean and tidy, not just for the sake of having a sparkling looking kitchen worthy of a magazine article.
Any parent knows how eager kids are to help with whatever you are busy with. It is a good thing and that way they learn.
Unfortunately there are some risks involved and it is up to you as parent to decide how you want to go about it.
The kitchen is no exception.
Kids end up on a chair or stepping stool to get a better reach to make themselves handy.
That brings risk because everything dangerous you moved away or was out of reach are now within reach, including the stove burners.
There is nothing wrong with trying to teach your kids the way around the kitchen.
But you as parent should then keep a really good eye on them and never leave them unattended.
The other way to handle this is by completely getting rid of the stepping stool. That way you eliminate that risk altogether.
Locked or latched cupboards
Cupboards within a child’s reach should by default be either locked or latched. It is a good idea to have a kids play cupboard where you keep several items that they can play with. That could be items like plastic bowls and blunt utensils.
It will help to distract them from the locked or latched cupboards that’s off limits.
Risks associated with trash cans include cuts and lacerations from the stuff that’s already in there, as well as harmful pathogens.
There are child proof trash cans on the market and we would definitely recommend that you consider getting one.
It is not the end of the world if the microwave gets switched on accidentally, maybe a bit of energy wasted.
If there is something already in there then that could be different.
Either something can get totally overcooked and burnt, with the risk of being burnt when touching it as well.
Or a child could shove a metal utensil or something into the microwave, which could end really badly.
Some modern digital microwaves comes with a child lock feature.
If you are in the process of buying a new microwave, chances are it is going to have a safety feature.
The more basic models with the dials will most likely not have any child lock functions.
There are suggestions out there to unplug the microwave after each use.
That is definitely a failsafe way to make it safer for kids, but it is probably not a good idea to do that with the newer digital models.
Do that with the older dial models.
The newer digital models will most likely have some kind of safety feature.
And as with so many other items on the list, place it in the kitchen as far out of reach of children as possible.
Fridges and freezers
Interestingly, the biggest hazzard with fridges and freezers is not the appliances themselves, but the fridge magnets on them.
They are choking hazards and from experience we know that a kid just can’t leave a fridge magnet alone.
To address this issue, either move the magnets up higher out of reach, or even better, get rid of them altogether.
At least just for the time being. The latter is definitely the best way to go since kids do find ways to get hold of those magnets even when placed up higher.
Keep floors clean for slips and diseases
It goes without saying that the kitchen floor should be kept clean and dry.
Most kitchen floors have smooth surfaces and slipping in a kitchen is something you want to avoid, especially with kids around.
Hygiene is another reason to keep the floor clean and dry.
Serious injuries can occur when a child pulls on loose and excess electrical cords.
Make sure all the electrical cords in the kitchen are tidied up and excess cord tied in.
Sharp edges and corners
This is basic hazzard al throughout the house, the kitchen is no exception.
Make sure there are as few as possible pointy things in the kitchen. If there is, either remove it or cover it.
Secure knobs and handles
Especially the smaller drawer knobs can be a choking hazard.
This is another hazard that is overlooked quite often.
Spices should be kept well out of reach of kids.
That is especially true for things like cayenne pepper.
Plastic wrap and aluminum foil
Both of these are choking hazards.
Furthermore, the packaging they come in usually comes with a cutting edge.
Keep these stored in a higher cupboard or shelf that is out of reach for kids.
This ranks right up there with the most dangerous items in the kitchen.
Some people don’t store their medicine in the kitchen but the same principle applies: keep the meds away from children.
Store it in the highest cupboard you have, and lock that cupboard. It should be impossible for children to get hold of it.
Needles to say, alcohol, same as medicine, should be stored in a locked cupboard, well out of reach of children.
First aid kit
This is the exception to meds being stored under lock and key.
A first aid kit should be stored where there is quick access to it, but still out of reach of kids.
A first aid kit specifically for the kitchen is something that gets a bit neglected.
It should contain items to treat injuries that are most likely to occur in the kitchen like cuts and burns.
Another important item that should be included is emergency eyewash.
A fire extinguisher and fire blanket are two other emergency items that should be kept closeby.
It is very important that everybody in the household that is capable, knows how to use the first aid kit, the fire extinguisher and the fire blanket.
Make sure your smoke alarm is in a good and working order.
When something is burning or set alight without you knowing about it, you would want to be made aware of it as soon as possible.
This is something that has to be done constantly. Talk to your kids about the risks and hazards in a kitchen. Show them. And repeat as often as possible. That way they will learn to respect the dangers present and be more vigilant.
Every kitchen is different and there are numerous hazards in the kitchen when it comes to kids.
It is therefore necessary to be vigilant when moving around so you can identify these hazards and do something about them before something happens.
If you have any tips on how to improve the safety in the kitchen for kids, send them through here and I will add it to the article!