As Benjamin Franklin famously said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” In celebration of National Kitchen Klutzes of America Day (each June 13th), here are five tips to help you reduce unnecessary kitchen mishaps and fully enjoy your culinary experience.
Put a damper on accidental fires
According to 2009-2013 research from the National Fire Protection Agency, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 162,400 home structure fires that involved cooking equipment per year. This represents 45% of home structure fires, and 33% of all structure fires.
Common reasons for kitchen fires include a towel, sleeve, or misplaced pot holder catching fire or grease igniting in a pan that is exposed to an open flame or high heat. Simple steps to take to cut down on the risk of fires are rolling up any loose sleeves, removing any other items that might catch fire accidentally, and keep towels, aprons and hand mitts away from flames. Accidents may happen, and if you find yourself in danger, call 911.
Avoid accidental cuts
Along with burns, cuts are the most common injury to happen in the kitchen. Here are some tips on how to minimize skin wounds:
- Keep your knives sharp
- Cut on stable surfaces
- Carry knives blade-side down
- Curl your fingers and cut away from your hands and fingers
- Don’t cut things while they’re in your hand
- Keep knives out of reach of young kids
Spills happen. Stains shouldn’t.
Spills and splatters are bound to happen while cooking, especially when sauces, oils and other liquids are involved. Donning a kitchen apron or NEATsheet™ during cooking is a great way to eliminate unnecessary stains to shirts, sweaters and jackets. Don’t let your great effort in the kitchen be diminished by stained or permanently damaged clothing.
Stop the spread of bacteria
To ensure the gastronomic experience is satisfying, eliminate foodborne illnesses by practicing good hygiene. Here are steps to take from start to finish:
- Be careful where you shop. Visually inspect meats and produce, note the cleanliness of the meat counter and ask around for the best quality groceries in town.
- While shopping, minimize risks of foodborne illnesses by avoiding bloated bottles or cans, placing meats in plastic bags before placing them in your cart, and refraining from keeping perishable goods out of the fridge for more than an hour.
- Smart steps to practice in the kitchen include:
- Wash hands and surfaces often
- Separate and don’t cross-contaminate
- Cook foods to proper temperatures
- Chill and refrigerate promptly
Click here for more detail on kitchen hygiene.
Credit: Food Safety and Inspection Service
Proper planning is key
Preparation can significantly reduce unexpected mishaps in the kitchen. Especially with more involved meals, spend a few minutes in advance to make sure you have all ingredients and have the pots, pans and kitchen appliances ready to go. Keep in mind this additional sage advice from Benjamin Franklin: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”