Keep the kitchen safe this holiday season

The kitchen is often the heart of the home, where we cook for ourselves, our families and our friends. Lots of wonderful childhood memories are tied to the kitchen and the tastes and scents of favorite dishes.

But kitchens are also full of potential hazards, electrical and otherwise. Like bathrooms, there is the possibility in a kitchen for water and electricity to meet with deadly consequences. Danger from fire, sharp objects such as knives, and hazardous chemicals also require preventive measures.

Here are some tips to keep your family safe in the kitchen.

Electrical safety

  • Make sure the outlets in your kitchen are outfitted with GFCIs (ground-fault circuit interrupters), which are designed to trip a fast-acting circuit breaker if there is a short or potential for a person to become a path to the ground, resulting in electric shock.
  • Keep appliance cords away from hot surfaces, and make sure there is plenty of space around electrical outlets.
  • Unplug toasters, toaster ovens, mixers, coffeemakers and other countertop appliances when not in use.
  • If you experience even a slight shock from an appliance, immediately turn off the circuit breaker to that appliance, then unplug it and don’t use it again until it has been checked by a certified electrician.
  • Keep appliances well away from the sink. The last thing you want is for something to get wet or get knocked into a sink full of water.

Fire safety

  • Keep your oven, stovetop, toaster, coffeemakers and other appliances clean to prevent grease and other types of fires.
  • Keep combustibles — including includes napkins, paper towels, takeout containers, pizza boxes, potholders and similar items — away from your stovetop, toaster and other appliances that heat up.
  • Keep an up-to-date fire extinguisher in the kitchen and know how to use it. Never use water to try to put out an electrical fire.
  • Make sure there is enough room behind your refrigerator (and deep freezer, if you have one) for air to circulate, and vacuum the coils every three months to prevent dust buildup that can lead to overheating and possible fire.

Other safety tips

  • Keep knives and other sharp objects in blocks or drawers.
  • If you have children or pets, make sure knives are not accessible to little hands. Secure household cleaners, and keep the number for poison control posted on your refrigerator just in case it’s needed.

Adhering to these safety tips will keep your kitchen a place of happy memories throughout the holiday season.

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