The kitchen is the heart of many families’ homes. Because it’s used so often for a variety of activities, it’s a high-risk injury area. There are choking and poisoning hazards, burns and scalds, and even tip-overs. Follow these tips to keep your family safer in the kitchen.
Prevent burns and scalds. Start by setting your water heater to 120-degrees Fahrenheit. Always test the hot water after adjusting it and consider installing anti-scald devices on water faucets and shower heads. Never leave a hot cooking area unattended and keep children at least three feet away from stoves, ovens, and backyard grills. This also means you shouldn’t carry or hold a child while using the stove. Use the back burners when possible and turn pot and pan handles away from the front of the stove.
Find the right highchair and use it properly. Make sure to select a Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) certified highchair with a sturdy base that hasn’t been recalled. Use the safety restraints every time your child is in the seat and stay with your child during mealtime. Find more tips on choosing and using a high chair here.
Prevent tip-overs in the kitchen by installing anti-tip floor brackets and straps (included with new appliances) to your stove and dishwasher. Don’t hang dish towels from the front of the stove or dishwasher: kids might yank them, pull down the door, and attempt to climb onto or into them.
Keep mealtime safe by cutting your toddler’s food into small pieces. Avoid small, round or hard foods that can get lodged in young children’s throats, like hot dogs, cheese sticks, nuts, or grapes, until they are 4 years old. Always supervise mealtimes and snack times. Have young kids eat in a highchair or at the table whenever possible. Explain that they should never run, walk, play or lie down when they have food in their mouths. Prevent kids from eating in the car, as they are at greater risk for choking, and they may be hard to get to in the case of an emergency.
Put latches on low cabinets with cleaners and other dangerous products. You’d be surprised how quickly kiddos can get cleaning products in their mouth or throw a glass bowl across the room. Allow access to some cabinets and drawers with safe items so your child can explore. Many children love pulling cookie sheets, pie pans, mixing bowls, and dog bowls out and banging them together or using wooden spoons to turn mixing bowls into drums.
Adapted from Make Safe Happen, where you can find more information and safety tips.
Laura Dattner is a research writer in the Center for Injury Research and Policy. With both a health communications and public health background, she works to translate pediatric injury research into meaningful, accurate messages which motivate the public to make positive behavior changes.
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