Kitchen Safety with Small Children in the House Kitchen Safety with Small Children in the House

Tim Norton

Kitchen safety should be a concern for everyone, but if you have young children in the home, then guaranteeing a safer kitchen environment for your little ones requires thorough preparation to ward off preventable accidents. Of all the rooms in your home, the kitchen poses the greatest danger to very young children.

Details Count

Though attentive supervision is the single best way to safeguard your child from harm in the kitchen, you can make your kitchen a safer environment for those times when children's curiosity gets the best of them.

  • Use outlet plugs to prevent your child from sticking an object or fingers into an unused outlet.
  • Keep all glass, sharp objects and breakables out of a child's reach.
  • Don't leave knives lying around where they can be grabbed.
  • Keep plastic bags out of reach. They are a suffocation hazard for young kids.
  • Use a high chair with a safety harness.

The average kitchen has many things that a young child just loves to grab. Stove controls are the most worrisome item to look out for. Many stoves have protective burner covers that can protect your child even if they manage to turn a burner on. Small children love to explore anything they can open, so make sure that your low cupboards contain nothing that can pose a danger. After the stove, cleaning solvents and other sprays and liquids represent a major risk. Keep these safely locked away. Most hardware stores or home stores carry locks that will secure cupboard doors and drawers. You may consider a safety gate for your kitchen door, but this may not be realistic when you consider the traffic in and out of your kitchen every day. Don't carry your young child while you also carry hot foods or liquids.

Kick the Bucket

A common but overlooked danger in the kitchen with small children present is buckets filled with water. Young children have drowned in just a few inches of water. Never leave a bucket of water or cleaning solvent unsupervised around a young child.

Your refrigerator door should be secured because a young child could pull the door open. Items in the refrigerator could fall on the child if the door is not secured. Tablecloths should not be used since a child may pull herself up by grabbing the overhanging edge of the cloth. This could bring heavy plates or hot beverages down onto the child. Though good supervision can prevent most mishaps, even the most attentive parents can arrive too late to prevent injury or accidents when dealing with ever-curious youngsters. Creating a safer daily environment for your child is half the battle.

Learn Not to Burn

Hot liquids are a constant source of danger to young children in the home. A drink heated to a temperature of 140 degrees can create a burn in just five seconds. At 160 degrees, a burn occurs in just one second. It's also a good idea to establish a zone in the kitchen where your young one is not allowed to be. This may be accomplished by placing a colorful rug directly in front of the stove. Teach your child to stay off of the area and the limits will be obeyed over time. Praise and reward the child for observing this boundary and a safer kitchen will be the result.

If you cook with fat cookers or fryers, be especially careful around a child. The grease used in fryer cooking can reach in excess of 400 degrees. This will cause serious burns on skin. Be sure to keep emergency phone numbers by the phone. Better yet, program emergency numbers into the speed dial feature of all your telephones. If your child is old enough, teach him or her to dial 911, or the appropriate emergency telephone number in your area.

Securing trash and garbage cans is yet another area of concern with young children in the home. Containers must be inside a cabinet or storage area with a locking door. Otherwise, children can get at trash and injure themselves by touching a sharp edged lid or other hazard. Containers should also be made of an easily washable material. Trash and garbage cans should be cleaned regularly with hot, soapy water. This will help protect your child as well as warding off household pests.

Don't Get Cornered

Think about it. Your entire home is made of right angles with one sharp corner after another. You don't think about them much, but a young child is at special risk of being injured by a table corner or other sharp-edged object. Some hardware stores can sell you detachable coverings to make corners safer for your child. If you are furnishing your home, you may want to consider tables and other pieces with rounded edges. You can't protect your child from every knock and bump in life, but a little planning can certainly reduce the risk of injury. Silverware should not be stored loosely or within reach of a child. Don't forget to safely store your aluminum oil or plastic wrap. The boxes on those items often have sharp teeth to cut the foil or wrap to length. These teeth can cause injury to your child. If you barbeque outside, you should remain just as vigilant as you would in the kitchen.

A Real Turn Off

Some stoves and ovens today are equipped with an automatic shut off feature if the appliance is left unattended for too long. It's a good idea to enquire about this feature if you are in the market for a new stove. You should check the hottest setting on your faucet to make sure that a serious burn will not result if your child is exposed to it. If the temperature is too high, you can adjust the setting to a safer level. If you are not particularly handy, get a qualified person to help you. If you keep these tips in mind, you and your children are sure to have more enjoyable times in the kitchen with less worry for parents and caretakers.

About the Author:
Tim Norton is a college instructor and a freelance writer. Though originally from Portland, Maine, he has lived in Rhode Island for many years. He is the founder of the Providence Grays, a 19th century baseball team that demonstrates the game before 1900 for today's fans. He also enjoys giving tips and advice on home improvement, decorating the baby's room, and buying kitchen appliances.

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