Are you planning to cook or bake in preparation for the holiday? Here are a few safety tips to help parents and caregivers keep your little ones safe in the kitchen.
The most important safety precaution in the kitchen is constant, close, attentive supervision! Simply being in the same room as a child is not necessarily supervising. An actively supervised child is in sight and in reach at all times.
Check the kitchen for preventable hazards.
Keep kitchen cabinets closed and locked, and store potentially hazardous goods, such as cleaning products and alcohol, in locked cabinets out of reach.
Burns (from spills, steam, hot surfaces and flame) can be especially devastating injuries. Because young children have thinner skin than adults, they burn more severely and at lower temperatures.
Scald burns from hot liquid or steam are the most common type of burns among children ages 4 and under. A child will suffer a full-thickness burn (third-degree burn) after just three seconds of exposure to 140-degree water, and will need surgery and skin grafts. Hot water heater should be set no higher than 120 degrees!
Safe Kids Middlesex County recommends these precautions against kitchen burns:
• Never leave a hot stove unattended. Unattended food on the stove is the number one cause of home fires.
• Never hold a child while cooking or carrying hot items.
• Cook on back burners whenever possible, and turn all handles toward the back of the stove.
• Don’t allow loose-fitting clothing in the kitchen. A flowing sleeve on your bathrobe can easily get caught on a pot handle and cause a spill.
• Keep hot foods and liquids away from the edges of counters and tables. Be especially careful around tablecloths — children can pull hot dishes down onto themselves.
Children who can follow directions may be ready to help out in the kitchen with tasks that do not involve knives, appliances or heat. Know your own children. Don’t give them knives or let them handle anything hot until they have shown the maturity and coordination to do it safely. Some children mature faster than others, so it’s up to parents to determine each child’s capabilities.
Courtesy of Diana Starace, injury prevention coordinator for Safe Kids Middlesex County and the Level I Trauma Center at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH). For more information about kitchen safety and burn prevention, call (732) 418-8026 or visit www.rwjuh.edu/trauma.