Kitchen Hazards

Mary Gormandy White
Toddler reaching for a hot stove on the pan

The average kitchen is filled with numerous hazards that may go unnoticed until an accident happens. Why take the risk when you can do something about it? Learn to spot these hazards so you can take steps to keep your family safer.

Kitchen Equipment Concerns

Stove and Oven Hazards

Whether your stove is gas or electric, it can pose a safety risk for every member of the household. Many people have burned their hands on a hot stove or as a result of reaching into an oven without a proper oven mitt. The risk of burns, however, is not the only reason that stoves can be dangerous:

  • Drop-in stoves can tip over if not properly secured, particularly if someone leans on the door when it is open. To prevent this type of kitchen hazard, verify that your stove is properly secured.
  • Pans not safe for direct heat can shatter if placed directly on a hot cook top after being removed from the oven. Always use trivets beneath pans when you remove them from the oven, regardless of what surface they are being placed on.
  • Leaving stove burners on under empty pots and pans can be a fire hazard. Verify that the stovetop is turned off when food is finished cooking.
  • Pots and pans filled with hot food can easily be knocked off if the handles are not situated properly. Always turn handles so they are facing away from the front of edge of the stove.
  • Failure to properly clean out the oven can cause fires while cooking. Clean the oven regularly, and never leave an oven unattended while in use.

Garbage Disposals

Garbage Disposal

Garbage disposals are common in many homes, and using them improperly can result in injury.

  • Make sure that every member of the household fully understands how to operate the disposal safely.
  • Never place your hand or fingers in the drain while the disposal is running.
  • Never flip the switch while poking around in the drain.

Small Appliances

Small Appliances

Most kitchens house a variety of small appliances, including blenders, mixers, crock pots, toasters, can openers, etc. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Keep all small appliance cords away from the edges of the countertop to avoid catching a cord and knocking the appliance off the counter.
  • Keep small appliances and their power cords away from the sink or other water sources while in use to avoid a shock hazard.
  • Never reach into appliances like mixers and blenders while they're running.
  • Keep the crockpot away from the edge of the counter so children can't accidentally touch it and get burned by the hot outer housing.

Kitchen Tools

Utensil Drawer

drawer

There's a utensil drawer in every kitchen, filled with forks, knives and other sharp objects that could potentially result in puncture injuries if not stored properly and handled with care.

  • Place all sharp items so that the sharp edges are pointing away from where they are likely to poke family members as they reach into the drawer.
  • Keep the drawer organized the same way so someone doesn't accidentally reach for a spoon and wind up with the blade of a knife.
  • Avoid storing so many items in the drawer that the clutter makes it difficult to see sharp utensils.

Knives

Knives

Knives are among the most common kitchen hazards, particularly if they are not stored properly.

  • Store your sharpest knives separate from the utensil drawer, either in a knife block or case.
  • Keep the knife block out of reach of children, and put it in a safe place where it won't get knocked over.
  • When storing knives in blocks, be sure that the handles are positioned so that they can be gripped easily.
  • Place the blade of the knife in the block with the sharp side pointing up. This will help preserve the edges, as well as make it easy for household members to know what to expect when pulling out a knife.
  • Knife cases should be firmly sealed so there's no risk of knives accidentally being exposed.

Household Chemicals

Household Chemicals

Many people store their chemical products, such as cleaning supplies and insecticides, in the kitchen. The most common storage spot for these types of products is underneath the sink. This places the products within easy reach of children, and even pets, if cabinet doors are not properly closed. Many of these products are harmful or fatal if ingested, and can also cause burns, skin irritation, and other problems.

  • Install safety locks on the doors of the cabinet where any potentially dangerous chemicals might be stored.
  • Store bleach and ammonia in separate areas because they can produce a dangerous reaction if they come in contact with one another.
  • Keep the number for poison control posted on your refrigerator or inside a cabinet door in case you need help in a hurry.

Be Aware of Kitchen Hazards

It's a good idea to periodically review how your kitchen is set up so you can make sure that everything is positioned and secured in a safe manner. It's also important to keep a fully-charged fire extinguisher and first aid kit handy in the event of a worst case scenario. When you are aware of the most common kitchen hazards, it's possible to take steps to prevent unnecessary injuries and accidents from occurring.

Kitchen Hazards