Hidden Kitchen Dangers
5 Hidden Dangers Lurking in Your Kitchen
The kitchen may be the center of hearth and home, but not everything that happens there is happy. The kitchen, along with the bathroom, is one of the most accident-prone spots in the house.
Here are five dangers that even safety-conscious cooks may overlook:
1. Dishtowels left on the stovetop
Most home fires take place in the kitchen. And it's not always burning food that's at fault. Many fires begin because something has been left on the top of the stove, which is then turned on, either on purpose or by accident (perhaps by a young child or someone with dementia).
Dishcloths and potholders near burners are common fire-triggers. So are dishtowel covering other objects, such as bread rising in a bowl. The Home Safety Council recommends keeping anything flammable at least three feet from the stove.
Related danger: Long-sleeved or wide-sleeved robes, especially those made of flammable synthetics, can easily catch the flames of a gas stove. Many older adults dismiss this danger ("Oh, I've always worn this old robe") without realizing that they may be less attentive than they once were. Paper bags and plastic bags or wrap are other common flammables to handle carefully.
2. The fire extinguisher that isn't
Few of us think much about fire extinguishers -- until we need one. Baking soda is a handy alternative for dousing a grease fire (never use water, which can spread the flames). But if there's a fire that's quickly getting out of control, only a fire extinguisher has the force and range to snuff it out. Be sure you have a portable fire extinguisher hung within easy reach of the stove, and that you -- and anyone else who cooks in the kitchen -- is familiar with how to use it. Check also that it has been inspected and serviced at least once a year.
Related danger: Lack of smoke detectors, or one that isn't working. Get in the habit of automatically replacing batteries, whether they need it or not, in both spring and fall on the day you reset your clocks.