Kitchens and Children don’t Mix – or do they?
Need to know:
- Never leave small children alone in the kitchen
- Always supervise when children are ‘helping’
- Teach safety through example
The combination of electricity, water, gas and naked flames in a kitchen is potential hazard enough. Add small children to the mix and it could be a recipe for disaster! However, by following a few sensible guidelines you can ensure that your kitchen is a safe place for all the family to enjoy.
The first rule of kitchen safety is to NEVER leave small children alone in the kitchen – tiny hands and inquisitive minds are a powerful combination. If possible, it is always safer to keep children out of the kitchen when you’re cooking, too. A safety gate on the door is one option, a playpen in the kitchen another, if you have sufficient space.
In practice, this is not always feasible. So keep your children protected by adhering to general kitchen safety practices as well as adopting a range of child-friendly tactics.
- use a cordless kettle to prevent children grabbing the flex and pulling the kettle over on to them
- use the back burners on the hob where possible and always turn pan handles inwards
- keep knives and other sharp implements, including containers with serrated edges (like foil and cling film boxes) out of reach
- fit safety catches to cupboards and drawers
- put covers on unused electrical sockets
- put the iron away immediately after use
- keep all household cleaners in a child-proof cupboard, along with cosmetics, medicine, alcohol, spray products and perfumes.
- keep matches and lighters out of reach
- fit a fridge guard/lock
- leave hot pans, bowls, utensils or electrical appliances near the edge of working surfaces or tables
- carry hot liquids in the vicinity of young children or while holding babies – even 15 minutes after it has boiled hot water can seriously scald a child
- microwave food for babies as there is a danger of hidden ‘hotspots’
- let young children near cookers – they could put their hands on heated rings or touch hot oven doors; tumble drier doors, too, can get very hot
- leave toys on the floor – tripping up is a very real hazard
- use tablecloths – very easy (and tempting) for a small child to pull off, together with the contents
- underestimate the speed and determination with which a small child can access a potential hazard
Of course, small children love to help in the kitchen and this is to be encouraged. They can lend a hand with a whole range of tasks quite safely as long as they do so under close supervision.
Hand in hand with this goes the teaching of safety – for example, demonstrate what is hot so your child knows why it’s important not to touch.
Over 67,000 children suffer accidents in the kitchen each year, 43,000 of them under five years old. Follow these guidelines and you can ensure that your child doesn’t become one of them.