Seniors in KitchenOne of the most important aspects of keeping yourself healthy and active is preventing unforeseen illnesses, injuries or accidents. No matter your age, you need to be cognizant of how many injuries can potentially take place in the space where you cook, eat and sometimes just hang out . . . the kitchen.

Whether it be a fall, cuts, food poisoning, or other injuries, the kitchen can be a potentially dangerous place for virtually anyone, old or young. Don’t miss these key health and safety tips when navigating around your kitchen to prevent injuries.

Keep your hands clean

This is especially important when you are dealing with food. Any contamination of food or bacteria can easily make you or others sick. You don’t want to be the person who gave food poisoning to all of your friends after a super fun, impromptu dinner party that you threw at your house. You also don’t want to be that person who, after recalling how you went about food preparedness, zero in on the fact that maybe you didn’t wash your hands nearly enough as you were preparing raw meat or fish.

Wash and dry your hands at the beginning of the food preparation process and then again at the end. If using any type of meat that must be cooked, make sure to thoroughly cleanse your hands after you touch the meat as well. Avoid mixing ingredients with your hands when possible - instead, use a long-handled utensil or stand mixer.

Keep kitchen stools out of the way

While kitchen stools do an outstanding job of providing assisted height and leverage to those who need help reaching specific cabinets or high spaces on top of refrigerators, they can be potentially dangerous if they are left out. Always move your kitchen stool to a safe and neutral spot after you are done using it to prevent accidents (i.e. tripping and falling over it).

If you have small children, keep chairs and kitchen stools away from dangerous areas like the stove to prevent little inquiring hands from incurring burn or scalding injuries. Store kitchen stools and collapsible chairs in a storage closet or a pantry against a wall so it’s entirely out of the pathway of where you may need to walk.

Close all cabinet doors and drawers

This is something that easily goes undone, especially if you are running around your kitchen needing a million different things from various spots. Leaving your drawers and cabinets even partially open can set you up for injury. Loose articles of clothing can get caught on the corners of them and cause you to trip. You may even round a corner too quickly and accidentally hit the edge of something so hard that it leaves a bruise.

While some small bumps may not seem that serious, some can potentially be very harmful and painful. A good tip is to listen for the sound that comes from a cabinet or door which signifies that it has been properly closed, you don’t necessarily have to wait by the cabinet for this to occur but keep your ears open for the sound that confirms its closed. If it doesn’t come, go back and correctly close it.

Use floor mats

Placing small mats on the floor underneath the sink and the refrigerator is a great way to catch any errant moisture that may gather in these two places. So many kitchen slips and falls are the direct result of water that gets on the floor that isn’t detected right away. All it takes is one wayward step, and a potentially debilitating fall could be the result.

Kitchen floor mats are generally much thinner than traditional rugs which also makes them safer for your feet and not something you would potentially trip on. If you spill or splash any type of liquid outside of the range where the mat is placed, thoroughly clean it up at once. It is easy to forget about any fluid leaks on the floor, but left unattended, they can be hazardous to anyone walking around in the kitchen.

Check fire extinguishers

Always have a fire extinguisher on hand stored under the sink or somewhere close by in case a grease fire or some other type of fire starts from uncontrolled heat from the oven and stove top. Never put water on a kitchen fire as a large number of kitchen fires start because of the amount of grease in proximity to hot flames.

If a fire does spark, stand as far away from the fire as you can, covering your mouth and nose so to protect yourself from the fumes. Point the fire extinguisher toward the fire and expel the contents. Baking soda or salt will also help extinguish a grease fire in the event your fire extinguisher is empty, and you haven’t yet replaced it. Open any nearby windows and turn on the fan to help circulate the smoky air that has likely accumulated over your stove and in your kitchen.

Avoid loose hair and loose clothing

While you may not want to run your kitchen the way a kitchen in a high-end establishment is run, it’s a good idea to pull back your hair and refrain from wearing loose clothing. These things may get caught on the edge of a doorknob or countertop or pass by the stovetop a bit too close, and you’d potentially have a fire.  Keeping your clothing and hair protected at all times goes far in intrinsically protecting yourself.

Safeguard Against Sharp Objects

The kitchen is full of sharp object - knives, scissors, glassware, you name it! When strategizing for kitchen safety, don’t forget to safeguard against cuts, slashes, and accidental injuries from sharp objects. For example, place all knives and forks with their sharp points down when loading the dishwasher. And while you are at it, practice caution when loading glassware and crystal to avoid breaking it into pieces during a dishwasher cycle. And always store sharp utensils and tools out of reach of small children. This includes placing scissors in a locked drawer!