Written by SMH Injury Prevention Coordinator Susan Williams
This time of year, the kitchen can be a busy, busy place.
With holiday parties and family feasts to prepare for — and hungry kids home for school break — many of us are logging longer hours in the kitchen. Make your kitchen a safe zone with this recipe for injury prevention and treatment.
Preventing Kitchen Fires
Preparing the perfect meal requires a cook’s full attention. Limit distractions and fall risks by encouraging crawling babies, toddlers and pets to stay out of the food prep and cooking area (treats may work well for both!) — and employ these best practices:
How to Treat a Burn
- Do not put ice on it. Cool off the burned area with cool water or cool compresses.
- Flush chemical burns well, using a generous amount of water. Do not break burn blisters.
- Use over-the-counter pain relievers, if needed.
Seek medical attention if:
- The burns go all the way around an arm or leg.
- The injury involves second- or third-degree burns (blisters, intense red skin, charred or waxy white skin).
- Burns cover a large surface area.
- Burns affect the eyes, mouth, airway or breathing ability.
Preventing Burns in the Kitchen
Burns can be caused by a number of things: fire, steam, hot oil/grease, hot liquids, a hot oven/stovetop, hot utensils, hot foods, etc. Use these best practices to prevent burns:
- Always turn pot and pan handles inward, toward the stovetop and wall.
- Avoid using the microwave to boil water. Superheating water can cause it to spontaneously erupt.
- Use potholders or oven mitts when removing items from the microwave or oven.
Preventing Cuts When Cooking
Hundreds of thousands of injuries are caused by kitchen knives each year, according to Consumer Product Safety Commission data. Use these reminders to avoid accidental cuts in the kitchen.
- Always use nonslip cutting boards.
- Store knives in a block to prevent accidental cuts caused by reaching into a drawer.
- Keep knives sharp; dull knives pose a greater risk because they require more force.
- As you cut, hold food with your fingers curled.
- Never put your hand into a blender, food processor or sink disposal while it’s operating.
How to Treat a Cut
- Clean with soap and water.
- Cover it with a bandage to keep it clean and prevent infection.
Seek medical attention if:
- The cut is deep or over a joint, seek medical attention at your nearest Urgent Care Center or ER.
- The cut continues to bleed longer than 10 minutes with pressure applied, consider seeking medical attention at your nearest Urgent Care Center.
Did you know that some common baking ingredients can be toxic to a small child, if ingested in a large amount? Vanilla extract, which is very high in alcohol content, is easily consumed in large amounts as it’s tasty and liquid. Nutmeg also can be potentially dangerous if eaten in large amounts. It can cause hallucinations and other serious side effects.
Keep these ingredients out of the reach of small children who might be tempted to ingest them.
Where to Go for Medical Attention
Accidents happen, and when they do, it’s sometimes hard to know whether to go to the ER or an urgent care center for injury treatment. Click here for our “ER vs. Urgent Care: Know When to Go” guide.
If an injury is not life-threatening, consider a visit with a board-certified doctor at your nearest urgent care center, where treatment is usually less expensive and much faster. Sarasota Memorial Urgent Care Centers are open 8 am to 8 pm daily, and with online check-in, you can be in and out quickly. (Click here for the holiday schedule.)
As the injury prevention coordinator for Sarasota Memorial's Trauma Services, Susan Williams, RN, BSN, serves as a critical link between the trauma team and the community it serves through education and outreach.