You know that knives are sharp and ovens are hot, and that they can cause serious cuts and burns. But when you’re in a rush or a post-workday daze, it’s easy to make a mistake, says Shop Smart, the shopping magazine from the publisher of Consumer Reports.
Accidents often happen because people haven’t thought everything through before starting to cook, says Elizabeth Briggs, a chef and Culinary Institute of America professor. Here are some safety tips from Briggs and ShopSmart’s own experts:
Lacerations caused by knives of all kinds (not just the kitchen type) affected more than 350,000 people in 2012. Dull knives are actually more dangerous than sharp ones, because they require more pressure to use and their worn edge can cause the knife to slip off food and into your fingers. To prevent injuries:
• Keep knives sharpened.
• Use a cutting board that doesn’t have a slippery surface.
• Cut away from your body.
• Store knives in a block, not in a drawer, where they can easily slice fingers.
Last year, almost 40,000 people were injured from these appliances. Kids are especially at risk if they’re not supervised and climb on an open door, causing the range to tip over. To prevent injuries:
• Install an anti-tip bracket if your current range does not have one to ensure that it is securely in place.
• Never place heavy roasts and other food on an oven door that’s been left open.
• Drape a towel on the oven handle while a pan is cooling to remind you that it’s still hot.
• Prevent injuries caused by shattering glass bakeware by avoiding these no-nos: taking the dish directly from the freezer to the oven or vice versa, putting the dish directly on a burner or under a broiler, adding liquid after the dish is hot, putting a hot dish on a cold or damp surface, or using a dish that’s chipped or cracked.
More than 37,000 people were injured from using cookware in 2012. Hot handles can burn, ShopSmart warns. And the food you’re cooking can catch fire. To prevent injuries:
• Never step away from the kitchen when you’re cooking.
• Always use oven mitts to pick up hot pans.
• If a grease fire starts, don’t douse with water or pick up the burning pan. A cookie sheet or lid can smother the flames; keep it covered for 10 to 15 minutes to make sure the fire is out. You can also throw baking soda on the flames.
• Keep a fire extinguisher with a minimum 5-B:C rating on hand.
SLICERS AND CHOPPERS
They caused more than 21,000 injuries in 2012, including cuts from the blades. To prevent injuries:
• Don’t leave motorized models on for a long time; they can overheat.
• Never reach into a slicer or a chopper. There is no need to hand wash and subject your fingers to injury; many parts are dishwasher-safe — including blades.
More than 10,000 people were hurt last year using microwaves. Burns were most common. To prevent injuries:
• Remember to be careful when removing a wrapper or cover on a microwaved dish; steam can escape and cause a nasty burn.
• Food can heat unevenly in a microwave, so use caution when touching or tasting.
• Let food cool for a minute or two before removing it.
More than 9,600 injuries occurred last year involving blenders. To prevent injuries:
• Avoid the temptation to put your hand inside, especially if it’s plugged in. Most blenders don’t have safety interlocks, so you could accidentally turn it on and mangle your hand.
• To clean blades without touching them, add dishwashing detergent and hot water to the blender container and let it run on high for a minute. Unplug, then rinse.