What Are the Top Kitchen Safety Hazards?

bleeding hand with bandage in kitchen
  • Beginner

Even if you're not crazy in the kitchen, chances are that there are kitchen dangers that you are not even aware of.

Safety is one of the most important things that you can bring to the kitchen with you, and as you cook and interact with your kitchen consciously, you'll keep yourself and your family safe.

The Oven and Stove

Starting off with a basic oldie but a goodie. You need to be cautious around the oven and stove because you can get burned. Really badly.

The oven and stove, and a number of other small appliances can be deceptively hot.

And sometimes we forget that we've used the stove, and our hands end up on a burner that’s still hot even if it's been off for a while.

Being on high alert and exercising caution around the oven and the stove is important. Make sure to use adequate protection when removing something from the oven, and watch out for grease splatters that could burn you on the stove.

Wearing a protective apron or even gloves is helpful.

If you have little kids in the home, set aside the time to teach them about oven and stove safety before lessons are learned the hard way.

It's also a good idea to learn how to treat burns at home so that minor burns can be handled quickly and the body's healing process can begin. Keep burn cream in your first aid kit, or use lavender oil.

Your earlobe is the coolest part of your body, so if you burn your fingers, touch your earlobe until you can better address the burn.

The oven and stove can also be a fire hazard in the home. In fact, the majority of house fires start in the kitchen, and along with faulty wiring, the stovetop can be a big culprit.

Even the best cook can start a fire on the stove. It just happens sometimes. But knowing how to quickly put that fire out is an important piece of kitchen safety knowledge.

A grease fire cannot be put out with water. You need to have baking soda on hand or a fire extinguisher to put out a grease fire. You can also smother a grease fire with a heavy metal lid or a cookie sheet.

But when smothering a grease fire with a lid or cookie sheet, be very, very cautious to avoid burning your hands.

Because of fire extinguisher will put out any type of fire, we do recommend having one in the kitchen. You can purchase a small fire extinguisher and keep it in the pantry for emergencies.

woman spraying oven fire with extinguisher

Gas Leaks

Gas leaks can happen anywhere in the home, and kitchens are not immune.

Along with a fire alarm and a smoke detector, it is critical that you have a yea detector in your kitchen. Adding the proper safety precautions will help prevent disaster.

In new builds, the fire alarm and smoke detector are hardwired in, but you can purchase a plug-in gas detector that will notify you if a deadly gas were to build up in your kitchen.

If that were to happen, you would want to call in professional help after evacuating the house and opening doors and windows.

When your gas alarm goes off, you don't wait around, you get out of the house quickly.

Electrical Malfunctions

As I stated earlier, electrical malfunction can cause fires in your kitchen. They can also cause a number of minor issues that can make the kitchen hard to use.

If you are renovating your own kitchen and you are not familiar with how electrical works, we recommend hiring out the electrical work to a professional.

At the very least, we recommend that you work with somebody who is done electrical work in a kitchen before as you are redoing the electrical in your own kitchen.

Electrical that is done poorly can lead to fires or shocks or, you guessed it, electrocution.

And it's not just the end result of poorly done electrical work that can end badly. it's very important that you're extremely cautious well you work with the wires in your home.

Cut the power to your kitchen—this can be done at the breaker box. Don't work with live wires, and don't be afraid to tap out and call it professional if you're in over your head.

It's better to be safe than sorry, or in this case, it's better to be grounded than electrocuted.

Slick Surfaces

woman falling in the kitchen with mopping gear

We've all chuckled at the Life Alert commercials before, but a slip and fall is no joke. The floors in your kitchen can be a dangerous place if things get out of hand.

Firstly, it's important to keep your kitchen floors clean not just for cleanliness reasons but for safety reasons. A floor covered in crumbs or cluttered with kids' toys is dangerous.

The last thing that you are thinking about when you're carrying a hot casserole from the oven to the counter is the floor. If your floor is slippery or littered, you can easily trip, slip, and fall.

Slick floors are also an issue in the kitchen. We found that the tile in our basement kitchen was particularly slick when wet, so we set out a rug with no slip grips on the back.

The grippers keep the rug in place, and the rug gives us a little bit of traction as you move around the kitchen. An unsecured rug would be an additional danger to the kitchen, but a secured rug can be beneficial.

If you have tall cupboards in your kitchen, be careful with how you reach those cupboards.

Even standing on something like a steady stool is not always a great idea. make sure that you have somebody in the kitchen with you, keeping an eye on you as you stand on the stool and reach high.

If you need to, have somebody spot you well you access the taller cabinets.

Food Poisoning

girl holding mouth near food in kitchen

Cross-contamination is real. Food poisoning is real. And both of those things can happen in your own kitchen.

It's rare, but it does happen. Cross-contamination and food poisoning are both kitchen dangers you need to be aware of.

Cross-contamination happens when contaminated food is accidentally crossed with food that's not going to be cooked, so those germs that would die during the cooking process end up thriving.

It would be like if you cut up raw chicken and then used that same raw chicken knife to cut up a cucumber that you then serve on a vegetable platter. Gross, right?

And because it's gross, it doesn't happen a lot, but sometimes we get distracted, and we don't think about what we're doing.

Developing a system in your kitchen where contaminated kitchen items are immediately cleaned and sanitized, and then put in the sink or dishwasher will help reduce cross-contamination in your kitchen.

Cross-contamination can certainly lead to food poisoning, but it is not the only cause of food poisoning.

There are just certain foods that need to be handled differently. Mayonnaise, for example, shouldn't be left out for a long time. Foods with mayo in them should also be refrigerated.

Meat is another big culprit when it comes to food poisoning. Your meat needs to be cooked to the appropriate temperature, and a meat thermometer can help you do that easily.

Your produce can also lead to food poisoning, like E coli. You need to wash your produce thoroughly before you enjoy it.

Knives and Other Sharp Objects

Another user error that leaves two major kitchen hazards comes when people get fancy with the knife work before they are ready.

We don't feel like it's a stretch to say that most people have cut themselves in the kitchen at some point. But until you lose the tip of your finger on a mandoline slicer, you don't know real pain.

Using sharp kitchen appliances cautiously is extremely important. It can be hard to remember when we are so used to interacting with these appliances and gadgets every single day.

But cheese graters are sharp, blenders have blades, and knives can knick a finger really quickly.

Preventing injury associated with sharp kitchen objects can be as simple as slowing down and making a mental note of anything sharp that you're working with.

It's also important to leave the crazy knife work to the chefs and those professional training and focus on safety first when it comes to chopping, slicing, or dicing.

If you have little kids in your house, it's important that all of your knives have covers. Curious minds end up with cuts when you're not careful.

Be prepared because chances are your kid will reach for the knife at some point while you're not in the kitchen.

If you have a kid who is interested in learning how to cut, start with kid-friendly knives and educate them on the dangers of real knives.

It's also important to keep any kitchen accessory with a blade up up up and away from little fingers. Make sure that anybody using these appliances in the house knows that they must be returned to a safe place as soon as they are done being used.

It's also a good idea to know how to properly and safely use the different types of knives in your block set and the other bladed kitchen appliances and how to safely clean each.

Kitchen Cleaners

child near kitchen cleaner products

Kitchen cleaners are another source of danger in the kitchen.

There are so many ways that the chemicals that you clean with can end up in your food, can be inhaled, or are just plain dangerous to use.

The first thing that we recommend is going through your kitchen cleaners and removing anything that is dangerous to be used around food.

We personally prefer an all-natural cleaner in our kitchen, especially on our counters, but as long as the chemicals are kitchen safe, you should be fine.

It's important to determine which chemicals need to be used with gloves as well. We burned ourselves with a nice chemical burn using Bar Keepers Friend without gloves.

It’s a handy product, but a dangerous one without proper protection.

You will also likely have cleaners that you need to use eye or lung protection with.

The next thing that you need to tackle is you need to make sure that you are not mixing any cleaners that create deadly gases.

Mixing cleaners can literally kill you, so you need to be very cautious. This is another reason why we tend to skew toward more natural products, though even those should not be mixed without caution.

The Layout

The layout and the age of your kitchen can also be a hazard. Even kitchens that were really expensive and well-built in their day, can age to a point where they become dangerous.

Beyond the cosmetic appeal, it's important that you keep your kitchen up to code, keep the appliances up-to-date, and minimize the dangers that exist in the layout of your kitchen.

Sometimes kitchens are just poorly laid out. Sometimes the oven door hits the fridge door, which hits the dishwasher, and you're left with a recipe for disaster.

Sometimes the house has settled and, in its old age, your floor slopes, or you have a chip in your tile from five years ago, or your LVP is coming up.

All of these little things that may seem merely cosmetic on the surface can actually be dangerous if left unchecked and fixed.

We are certainly not saying that you need to go overhaul your entire kitchen with a renovation, but if you're looking for an excuse, here is your excuse.

All we are saying is that you need to identify the danger zones that exist in your specific kitchen and watch out for them.

We have wood floors in our kitchen, and we have one board that is just a wee bit wiggly. We are well aware of this board, and we steered clear of it for many months until we could get it fixed.

It's minor mental adjustments like that but will keep you safe in your kitchen.