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Top 10 Kitchen Safety Dos and Don’ts

Understanding hazards in the room where you cook can help you and your family avoid cuts, burns and a bout of food poisoning.

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When cooking with sharp knives and intense heat, accidents are bound to happen in the kitchen. Understanding the hazards can help you and your family avoid cuts, burns and a bout of food poisoning. Here are some kitchen safety do’s and don’ts to practice in your home.

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Men's sport shoes. NIKITA TV/Shutterstock

Wear shoes

Ever drop a knife? Imagine that going into your foot. Ouch! Wearing shoes while you cook is always recommended. Not only will the shoes protect you from a fallen sharp object, but they will also protect you from other kitchen mishaps such as broken glass and hot water or oil spills.

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Chef in restaurant kitchen at stove with pan, doing flambe on foodKzenon/Shutterstock

Learn how to extinguish a fire

There are roughly 164,500 residential cooking fires in the United States each year. Cooking is the leading cause of fires and injuries that occur in our homes. Be sure to always have a fire extinguisher in your kitchen and know how to use it. It takes only seconds for a fire to get uncontrollable. Learn about different types of fires such as grease and electric fires. Never put them out with water. Instead, your best bet to extinguish them is to use baking soda or a pan cover. Suffocating the fire by removing air is the best way to put out most fires. A fire inside your oven is best put out with an extinguisher, and a microwave fire can be put out just by turning off the appliance and keeping the door closed.

Check out these fire safety tips from the Red Cross, and be sure to buy yourself a fire extinguisher. You can get one for less than $20.

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Close up of male hand cutting tomato on cutting board with sharp knifeShahrokost/Shutterstock

Learn how to use knives

A dull knife is more likely to slip and cut you than a sharp knife. Keeping your knives sharpened is one of the easiest ways to keep them safe. A simple fix is to use a knife sharpener to maintain a keen-edged blade. Also, you should choose the appropriate knife for the task at hand. In other words, using a meat cleaver to slice strawberries isn’t the best idea.

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Young Woman Tasting Food With Spoon In KitchenAndrey_Popov/Shutterstock

Wear safe clothing

Do not wear long, baggy sleeves in the kitchen. Can you imagine your sleeve catching fire on a gas stove? The outcome could be scary. In general, tops with fitted sleeves or short sleeves work best. Also, avoid wearing anything flammable or synthetic; when overheated, these fabrics can melt onto your skin.

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Apple cider vinegar effective natural remedy for skin itch, fungal infection, warts, bruises and burnsThamKC/Shutterstock

Prevent burns

Make sure when cooking that the handles of your pots and pans are turned inward. This will be safer than someone knocking into them resulting in your food flying and burning you. Always have potholders or oven mitts close by when handling anything on the stove top or oven. Don’t use wet potholders or dish rags because they will not keep the heat from burning your hands.

If you do get burned, check out your pantry for soothing remedies.

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Washing of hands with soap under running water.hxdbzxy/Shutterstock

Always wash your hands

Don’t forget. It’s important to wash your hands in hot soapy water before and after cooking. Try to use paper towels to dry your hands afterward because if a dish towel touches any raw meats or juices it can lead to a bad case of food poisoning. Be sure to also clean all your surfaces and sinks where any raw meats or juices may have touched.

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Woman standing by the stove in the kitchen, cooking and smelling the nice aromas from her meal in a potDaxiao Productions/Shutterstock

Always stir and lift away from you

When lifting a lid off toward you, the scalding condensation can drip onto your skin, causing burns. Be sure to lift the lid off facing away from you.

The same goes for stirring. Make sure you always stir away from your body. After all, you want to eat the spaghetti sauce, not get burned by it.

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Don’t set a hot glass dish on a wet or cold surface (or a frozen glass dish into a hot oven)

When glass comes in contact with a surface dramatically different in temperature it can shatter. So don’t set your piping hot casserole dish on a cold counter (or into ice cold water). Instead, use a trivet or hot pad. Same goes for frozen cold dishes. Don’t put an icy cold freezer meal into a hot oven or a cold glass dish into boiling hot water.

Even shock-resistant Pyrex is not immune, so be careful!

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vegetarian wok stiry fry with spatulaJoshua Resnick/Shutterstock

Don’t use metal utensils on nonstick, Teflon pans

Cooking with metal utensils on Teflon or non-stick pans can cause flaking or chipping of the Teflon. This can, in turn, mix toxic compounds into your food. A better solution: Use wooden, silicone or plastic spoons. Always.

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Raw red meatAfrica Studio/Shutterstock

Don’t use the same cutting board for raw meat, fruits and vegetables

We all want to avoid washing extra dishes, but this is one area in which you shouldn’t take shortcuts. Using the same cutting board for meats, fruits and vegetables is a surefire way to get the whole family sick with salmonella poisoning. The FDA advises you use two separate cutting boards: one for raw meat, poultry and seafood, and another for fresh fruits and vegetables. If you must use the same board, its safest to prepare your fruits and vegetables first, wash your cutting board thoroughly with soap and hot water, and then prepare your meats.