Cooking brings family and friends together, and sharing meals is a great way to socialize. For that reason, kitchen safety is a popular topic for all ages. Given the amount of time we spend in our kitchens, it’s important to take safety into account. For seniors who live independently and prepare their own meals, kitchen safety is especially important. That’s because age can bring physical and cognitive impairments that are especially dangerous in the kitchen.
Here are the top safety tips to keep in mind when using your kitchen:
Avoid Kitchen Fires
Cooking fires are the leading cause of home fires and fire injuries, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Seniors with mobility limitations are especially at risk of serious injuries in the case of a kitchen fire. If your food catches fire, leave immediately and call 911 after you leave the house.
Here are some tips to prevent fires while using the kitchen:
- Never leave food grilling, frying, or broiling unattended. These three methods of cooking typically involve oil or other flammable fats and high heat. Even a drop of oil can ignite and cause a conflagration. In fact, unattended cooking accounts for 33% of home cooking fires, and half of all associated deaths.
- Food residue in ovens or on stove tops can also ignite, so keep those areas clean. Cleaning cooked gunk off the range can be difficult, so you may need someone to do that for you every now and then.
- Don’t cook if you’re feeling tired or confused, or if you just took a medication that has sleepiness as a side effect.
- Keep dish towels, curtains, and other cloth items far from the burners. Likewise, make sure not to wear loose-fitting clothing or long scarves that can get caught in the flame.
- Keep your pot and pan handles facing inward, so you don’t accidentally bump into them and spill the boiling hot contents.
- Unplug all countertop appliances when you’re not using them.
- Get into the habit of checking the kitchen every time you finish cooking, to make sure everything is turned off.
Avoid Accidents and Falls
Since we spend so much time in the kitchen, it’s a good idea to set it up to prevent falls or other injuries. If you no longer feel secure using footstools or step ladders, have someone help you move your frequently used items to lower shelves. You may want to keep the things you use every day on the counter to minimize bending or reaching.
Here are some other general kitchen safety tips:
- Ensure you have enough lighting for such a heavily used room. If there aren’t already, you may want to install light switches at each entrance to the kitchen. If you or your spouse tend to come to the kitchen often at night for a drink or midnight snack, make sure there is some lighting on at night.
- Clean up liquid spills immediately, to reduce the risk of slipping and falling.
- Keep electrical cords away from the floor or dangling from counters.
- Use oven mitts to handle hot pots and pans.
- Properly store knives and other sharp objects.
Keeping your kitchen safe as you age keeps your kitchen happy and comfortable, ready for many more years of memories.