Help keep the fun going — and the home accidents and illnesses at bay — this holiday season with these kitchen safety tips.
It’s all hands on deck when it comes to holiday cooking, from defrosting the turkey to storing the surplus of leftovers. But kitchen health and safety can be compromised with all those extra helping hands. Health concerns that began with the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 continue to plague us in 2022 and beyond.
We’ve gathered a list of kitchen safety tips to help ensure you and your family can enjoy the season accident-free.
Don’t Forget to Wash your hands
Hand washing has now become the #1 safety tip for the kitchen. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) recommends that you wash your hands in the kitchen:
- Before, during, and after preparing food.
- Before and after eating food.
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
Basically, wash your hands anytime you enter the kitchen before touching or eating food. Rewash your hands after using them to cover your mouth when sneezing or coughing to prevent potentially spreading illness or disease.
The CDC also provides this guidance for washing your hands thoroughly and effectively to help prevent the spread of germs and illness:
- Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
- Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
- Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
- Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
- Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
Washing your hands thoroughly and frequently when cooking can add to food preparation time but following these guidelines will help keep you and your family safe.
Don’t skip frequent hand washing when preparing and handling food in the kitchen.
Do Follow Safe Food Handling Guidelines
The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) provides this guidance for safe food handling:
- Clean—Wash hands and surfaces often.
- Separate—Don’t cross-contaminate.
- Cook—Cook to proper temperatures, checking with a food thermometer.
- Chill—Refrigerate promptly.
Follow all of the USDA’s food-handling guidelines in their Keep Food Safe! Food Safety Basics article to help keep your family healthy.
Don’t leave foods out longer than two hours. Leaving dishes of leftover food out for more than two hours is one of the biggest food safety concerns. Refrigerate temperature-sensitive dishes after everyone has filled their plate to ensure bacteria don’t make them breeding grounds.
Do Use Your Dishwasher to Sanitize Dishes
Many dishwashers have a Sanitize setting that you can use to disinfect dishes. The Sanitize setting heats the rinse water to high enough temperatures to kill germs on dishes.
If your dishwasher has a Sanitize setting, use it to keep dishes germ-free.
Do Check Kitchen Safety Devices
Don’t neglect the safety devices in your kitchen that help keep you and your family safe.
Smoke Alarm and Carbon Monoxide Detector
When you have gas cooking appliances in your kitchen, you’ll definitely need to make sure that a carbon monoxide (CO) detector is in place and working properly. CO is an odorless gas that can be emitted from a gas stove, oven or cooktop when burner flames aren’t adjusted properly.
Test the smoke detector in your kitchen regularly to make sure it’s working. Keep fresh batteries in your smoke and CO detector by replacing the batteries yearly.
Yes, you should have a fire extinguisher in your kitchen. If you don’t have one, we recommend that you get one.
Make sure that everyone in your home knows where the kitchen fire extinguisher is located and how to use it. Use a CO2 fire extinguisher to put out a grease fire instead of water because water. Water will just scatter a grease fire and make it worse rather than extinguishing it.
Range Anti-Tip Device
Freestanding ranges should be secured to the floor or wall using an anti-tip device. The anti-tip device is an essential bracket that prevents the range from tipping forward when you open the oven door and extend an oven rack out of the range with a dish on the rack.
To check whether this device is properly installed, open the oven door fully and carefully press down on the front edge of the door to see if the range begins to tip forward. If it does, pull the range out from the wall and install the anti-tip device properly. Use the directions in the installation guide for your range to properly install the anti-tip device.
If you pull the range out from the wall for any reason such as cleaning, don’t forget to engage the anti-tip device when pushing the range back in place.
Don’t Leave Children Unattended When Cooking
Cooking appliance surfaces can get hot and burn little hands when cooking. Severe burns can occur if a child tips over a container of hot liquid cooking on the stove. Always supervise children in the kitchen when cooking to prevent accidents.
Don’t Forget to Replace Your Refrigerator Water Filter
Unless you replace the water filter in your refrigerator regularly, the water and ice coming from the dispenser of your fridge will have impurities—some of which can be harmful to your health. Your refrigerator water filter becomes less efficient over time, as it traps more and more impurities. Keep a fresh water filter installed to reduce impurities, chlorine taste and odor in your refrigerator’s water supply and enjoy safe ice and drinking water from your fridge.
Do Maintain Your Appliances
Schedule a Sears Technician to professionally check and maintain your kitchen appliances annually so they continue to operate safely.
Professional range and oven maintenance is especially important when you have a gas stove or wall oven. Improperly adjusted burner flames can emit dangerous carbon monoxide (which should be detected by the CO detector that you were just reminded to check). During professional annual maintenance, a Sears Technician will check and adjust all oven and cooktop burners.
When you have an electric range, the technician will check for electrical shorts that can pose an electrocution hazard during the annual maintenance check.
In addition to these checks, the tech will also check these aspect or range operation that can affect safety:
- Check control operation. Range controls are checked for accurate temperature control of the oven and stovetop burners. Faulty controls can cause the range to overheat.
- Examine oven door alignment. Checking and adjusting the oven door will prevent range surfaces from overheating and causing burn hazards.
- Test oven self-cleaning operation. On ranges that have self-cleaning ovens, the service technician checks the control and oven door lock to make sure it stays closed during the self-cleaning cycle. During the self-cleaning operation, oven heats to extremely high temperatures to burn spills and residue inside the oven to ash. To prevent fires, the oven door must remain closed and locked during self-cleaning. If you were to open the door during self-cleaning, a sudden rush of air into the extremely hot oven can cause a serious fire.
- Level the range and check the anti-tip device. The technician levels the range to reduce the risk that a pot or pan will accidentally slide off a gas surface burner. The tech will also check the anti-tip device that prevents the range from tipping forward when you open the oven door and pull a loaded oven rack forward out of the oven.
Your refrigerator helps keep your family safe by cooling stored foods—when it’s working right.
Having a service technician check and adjust your fridge is essential to food safety. Dairy products can begin to spoil when refrigerator cooling is only off by a few degrees. The tech will check cooling temperatures in the fridge to make sure your refrigerator is keeping foods at safe temperatures.
The technician will check other safety aspects of refrigerator operation such as the water system and electrical components.
When you use your dishwasher to sanitize dishes, you’ll definitely want to have a service technician check the heating system, temperature sensor and electronic control to make sure that dishes are actually getting sanitized.
Many dishwashers have removable water filters that screen out debris, broken glass and food particles from recirculated wash water during the dishwashing cycle. Failing to clean these filters can cause the dishwasher to redeposit food debris on the dishes during the wash and rinse cycles. The technician will clean these filters during dishwasher maintenance and instruct you on regular cleaning of the removable filters.
The technician will check the wash and drain pumps for proper operation and leaks. Failure of either pump prevents dishes from getting clean during the wash cycle.
Schedule a Kitchen Appliances Clean & Maintain Package and the Sears tech will inspect and clean your dishwasher, range and refrigerator all at once. Keep all of your kitchen appliances well-maintained for the safety of your family.
Follow these kitchen safety tips, and you’ll have the peace of mind that you’ve done everything that you can keep your family healthy.