Kitchen Safety Tips for the Holiday Season

As the holiday season approaches, the kitchen can become especially busy for many. During this time of year, we tend to host more family dinners, and holiday parties. With all this increased kitchen activity, safety can sometimes be overlooked.

While cooking-related injuries can take place any time of year, these incidents tend to increase in frequency around the holidays. Some of the injuries that take place in the kitchen include cuts, sprains and eye-related injuries, but the most common type of cooking-related injury are burns to the skin from hot liquids such as water, grease, or other substances.

Caution is the best practice for avoiding burns especially, while frying or boiling your favorite holiday foods. It is best to keep the flame at a reasonable level to avoid splatter burns when frying food. Also, be careful with your eyes while working in the kitchen as oil or hot water can cause irritation, injury or infection.

In addition to burns, hospitals also treat many people who suffered lacerations from knives while chopping or carving foods. Most injuries occur on the hand, knuckles or tips of the fingers. In some cases these injuries can result in stiches or even the loss of a digit. When using knives it is very important to use the right tool for the job. Don’t use a bread knife to carve a piece of meat or try to chop vegetables with a paring knife. It might sound odd, but always keep your knives sharpened. More kitchen injuries come from people using cutlery with dull blades than sharp ones.

Here are a few additional cooking safety tips:
• When chopping vegetables, slice downward and away from your body while keeping your fingers away from the blade.

• Never fry a turkey indoors or in a garage or other structure attached to a building. Be careful to follow specific thawing, preparation, and cooking temperature and timing instructions to avoid potential serious injury.

• Keep a fire extinguisher handy in the kitchen, and know how to use it.

• Never leave your food unattended while frying or grilling.

• Use a timer and routinely check whatever you’re cooking.

• Keep your cutting area well-lit and dry. Good lighting will help prevent an accidental cut of the finger and making sure your cutting surface is dry will prevent ingredients from slipping while chopping.

• Make sure to wear a mitten when you are grabbing food from the oven.

Jamaica Hospital’s Trauma Division recognizes that many of these injuries, accidents, and fatalities are preventable. Our Trauma Division is fully dedicated to reducing and preventing these injuries through community outreach, education and advocacy.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.