Kitchen and cooking-related injuries increase during the holiday season as we tend to spend more time in the kitchen. The most common injuries that occur are cuts, burns and illnesses from improper food handling. Renown Health Section Chief of Urgent Care, Dr. David Lemak, shares some tips on how to stay safe in the kitchen during the holidays.
Sharp Things Cut
Injuries from sharp kitchen objects are most often caused by inappropriate handling or reaching into the sink/trash that may contain sharp things. To avoid a cut this holiday season, here are a few tips:
Don’t leave knives in the sink — Placing knives/blades in the sink increases your risk of accidentally cutting yourself on an upright blade. Properly put away knives/blades in a knife block or drawer.
Only cut on cutting boards or stable items – Cutting on unstable items can cause you to cut the wrong way or lose your grip on the knife and accidentally cut yourself.
Cover sharp objects you have thrown away – If you have to throw away sharp objects, like broken glass, remember to cover it in the trash so it doesn’t accidentally cut you if you reach into the trash later.
Hot Things Burn
As we get busy in the kitchen, we may forget that accidents can happen. Scalds and splashes of hot liquids on the hands and feet are some of the most common burn injuries seen during the holidays. To prevent a burn injury:
Don’t wear dangling jewelry/sleeves – Although fashionable, these things can accidentally brush against hot kitchen items and cause burns or even catch on fire.
Keep handles on the stove pointing inwards – If you have items cooking on the stove, pointing pot handles inward can help avoid spills/burns if you were to accidentally run into them.
Always use hot pads or oven gloves – Remember to use hot pads when picking up hot items!
Foods Can Make You Sick
The food we make during the holidays is meant to be enjoyed, not to cause illness. The most common food-borne illnesses are Salmonella and food poisoning. To avoid foods making you sick, remember to:
Thaw your frozen items thoroughly, but not on the counter – Not thawing food items thoroughly, especially meats, can be dangerous. Plan ahead to allow plenty of time for your frozen items to thaw in the refrigerator.
Clean up meat fluids thoroughly – If you do not clean up meat fluids thoroughly, they could potentially contaminate other food dishes.
Wash raw fruits and veggies – If you are preparing raw fruits/veggies, remember to wash them thoroughly. You do not have to rewash prewashed/packaged items as they are already clean.
Use a working thermometer to confirm cooked meat temperatures – Check that your thermometer is working properly so you can confirm meats are cooked to the correct temperatures.
Being Prepared if an Injury Happens
We know accidents happen, so it is important to be prepared if and when an injury occurs. If an injury occurs, follow these steps:
- Clean wound under cold running water.
- Apply pressure and cover with clean paper towels.
- Bandage with clean bandages if necessary.
If you feel that the injury/illness is in need of medical attention, please visit your nearest Urgent Care.