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Table of Contents

Don't Neglect the Importance of Washing Hands

Do Adhere to Safe Food Handling Practices

Do Use Your Dishwasher to Sanitize Dishes

Do Regularly Check Kitchen Safety Devices

Don’t Leave Children Unsupervised When Cooking

Don’t Overlook the Need to Replace Your Refrigerator Water Filter

Do Maintain Your Appliances

Schedule kitchen appliance maintenance now!

Call (213) 596-2538
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6 Kitchen Safety Tips - Do’s and Don’ts of the Kitchen

12 min readUpdated Mar. 13, 2024Lyle WeischwillKitchen Appliances
Kitchen safety tips for the holiday season

Welcome to the heart of your home—the kitchen! It's where delicious meals are created, family gatherings are enjoyed, and memories are made. But did you know it's also a place where safety should be a top priority? Sears Home Services understands the importance of a safe and healthy kitchen environment for you and your family's health. Whether you're whipping up a quick breakfast or preparing a lavish dinner, safety should never be left on the back burner. In this guide, we'll walk you through the essential do's and don'ts of kitchen safety. From novice home cooks to culinary aficionados, these tips will ensure your kitchen is not just a hub of creativity and joy, but also a secure and accident-free zone. Let's embark on this journey to a safer kitchen, where delicious meals and safety go hand in hand!

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Regular handwashing and proper food handling practices are fundamental to preventing foodborne illnesses.
  • Utilizing your dishwasher effectively and conducting annual maintenance on your kitchen appliances are crucial steps in safeguarding against harmful bacteria.
  • Never underestimate the importance of supervising children in the kitchen, testing safety devices regularly, and replacing your refrigerator water filter to ensure a healthy cooking space for your family.

Don't Neglect the Importance of Washing Hands

Hand hygiene is a cornerstone of kitchen safety. Regular handwashing while cooking can significantly reduce the spread of harmful bacteria, protecting you and your loved ones from foodborne diseases.

The role of hand hygiene in a kitchen setting is paramount. Our hands touch countless surfaces throughout the day, gathering bacteria and potential pathogens. By washing your hands, you eliminate these harmful agents, reducing the risk of cross-contamination.

To ensure effective hand hygiene, adhere to the correct technique. Follow the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) recommendations for effective handwashing.

  • Wet your hands. Use clean, running warm or cold water, turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  • Lather your hands. Rub your hands together with the soap, lathering the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  • Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. You can time it by humming the "Happy Birthday" song twice from beginning to end.
  • Rinse your hands thoroughly under clean, running warm or cold water.
  • Dry your hands thoroughly using a clean towel or an air dryer.

Knowing the right time to wash your hands while cooking is as crucial as the technique. Make sure to wash your hands:

  • Prior to and after handling raw meat, poultry, or seafood.
  • Before and after handling fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • After using the restroom.
  • After sneezing, coughing, or blowing your nose.
  • After dealing with garbage or cleaning agents.

By following proper handwashing techniques during your daily routine, you can significantly lower the risk of foodborne diseases while enjoying a clean and healthy kitchen environment.

Family washing their hands in the kitchen

Do Adhere to Safe Food Handling Practices

Safe food handling practices are another crucial aspect of kitchen safety. Practicing these can help prevent foodborne illnesses, ensuring the safety of your family. Here are key do's and don'ts to remember:

Appropriate food storage and refrigeration:

Perishable foods like raw meats, dairy products, and leftovers should be stored in the refrigerator at temperatures below 40°F (4°C) to inhibit bacterial growth. Keep raw meats separate from other foods to avoid cross-contamination. Use airtight containers or tightly wrap foods in plastic or foil to maintain freshness and prevent odor spreading.

Prevent cross-contamination:

Cross-contamination means the transfer of bacteria from one food item to another, which can lead to foodborne diseases. To prevent this, wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling raw meats. Use separate cutting boards and utensils for raw meats and other ingredients, or wash them thoroughly between uses. Don't use the same utensils or plates for raw and cooked foods.

Safe defrosting and cooking of meats:

Proper defrosting and cooking of meats is vital in eliminating harmful bacteria. Thaw frozen meats in the refrigerator, under cold running water, or in the microwave. Never let meat thaw on the countertop. Cooking meats to the appropriate internal temperature kills bacteria. Use a food thermometer for accuracy, and refer to safe cooking temperature guidelines for different types of meats.

Remember, proper food handling not only affects the taste and quality of your meals but also the safety of the food you and your family consume.

Do Use Your Dishwasher to Sanitize Dishes

A dishwasher is an easy and efficient way to sanitize dishes, keeping them free from harmful bacteria. Here's what you need to know about how dishwashers sanitize dishes and tips for proper loading, unloading, and maintenance.

  1. How dishwashers sanitize dishes:
    Dishwashers leverage hot water, detergent, and high temperatures to effectively sanitize dishes. The high heat during the wash cycle, typically around 140-150 degrees Fahrenheit, kills bacteria, ensuring a thorough clean.

  2. Proper loading and unloading of dishwasher:
    Load your dishwasher in a manner that allows water and detergent to reach all surfaces. Avoid overloading to ensure proper water circulation. Separate items like cutlery to avoid nesting, which can impede cleaning. When unloading, start with the bottom rack to avoid water droplets falling onto the dishes below. This also prevents potential breakage of delicate items on the top rack.

  3. Tips for maintaining your dishwasher:
    Regular maintenance is key to keeping your dishwasher in optimal condition. Clean the filter regularly to prevent blockages and ensure optimal performance. Wipe the interior and door seals to remove any food particles or residue that may accumulate over time. Use a dishwasher cleaner periodically to remove mineral deposits and keep your dishwasher smelling fresh. Schedule yearly maintenance to keep your dishwasher in good working order.

Do Regularly Check Kitchen Safety Devices

Having the right safety devices in place is crucial for kitchen safety. Here are some important factors to consider:

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.

Importance of Smoke Detectors and Fire Extinguishers:

Smoke detectors and fire extinguishers are crucial kitchen safety devices. Make sure a smoke detector is installed near your kitchen and ensure they are functioning correctly by conducting regular tests.

Fire extinguishers can be a lifesaver in case of a small fire. Keep a fire extinguisher easily accessible in your kitchen, suitable for extinguishing different types of fires. Check its expiration date and pressure gauge to ensure it's in good working order.

Testing and Maintaining Kitchen Safety Devices:

Regular testing and maintenance of kitchen safety devices ensure their effectiveness. Monthly tests on your smoke detectors can be done by pressing the test button and remember to replace the batteries twice a year. Clean the detectors to prevent dust or debris-induced false alarms.

Fire extinguishers should be inspected monthly to ensure they are charged and accessible. Follow the manufacturer's maintenance instructions and have them serviced annually by a professional.

Choosing the Right Kitchen Safety Devices:

Consider your household's specific needs when choosing kitchen safety devices. Choose interconnected smoke detectors so if one alarm triggers, they all do. Look for easy-to-use fire extinguishers suitable for kitchen fires. Also consider investing in a fire blanket for smothering small fires or a fire suppression system for added protection.

A man testing the smoke detector

Don’t Leave Children Unsupervised When Cooking

When considering kitchen safety, an important tip for parents is never to leave children unattended while cooking. The kitchen poses various risks including hot surfaces and sharp objects. Supervising your children in the kitchen helps create a safe cooking environment and prevents accidents.

Here are some kitchen safety tips for parents:

1. Establish clear rules: Set clear rules and boundaries before allowing your children in the kitchen. Teach them the do's and don'ts of the kitchen, such as not touching hot pans or sharp knives without adult supervision.

2. Create a safe cooking environment: Childproof your kitchen. Keep dangerous items like knives and cleaning supplies out of reach. Install safety gates to keep young children from entering the kitchen unsupervised.

3. Educate about basic kitchen safety: Teach your children about basic kitchen safety practices. Show them how to safely use kitchen appliances, handle hot pots and pans, and turn off the stove or oven.

4. Supervise at all times: Always supervise your children when they are in the kitchen. Even older children should be closely monitored to ensure they are following the kitchen safety rules.

By implementing these kitchen safety tips and supervising your children in the kitchen, you can help prevent accidents and create a safe cooking environment for your family.

Don’t Overlook the Need to Replace Your Refrigerator Water Filter

A crucial yet often overlooked aspect of kitchen safety is the quality of the water we consume. Clean, filtered water is vital for our health, especially in cooking and meal preparation. This makes remembering to replace your refrigerator water filter regularly extremely important.

Having a clean, filtered water supply helps remove impurities and contaminants that may be present in your tap water, such as chlorine, sediment, bacteria, and other potentially harmful substances. By using a refrigerator water filter, you ensure that the water you use for drinking, cooking, and cleaning is of the highest quality.

So, how often should you replace your refrigerator water filter? The replacement frequency depends on various factors, such as the type of filter, the quality of your water supply, and your household's water usage. Generally, it is recommended to replace the water filter every six months. However, if you notice a decrease in water flow or a change in the taste or odor of your water, it's likely time for a replacement.

Choosing the correct water filter for your refrigerator is also important. The Sears PartsDirect Water Filter Finder can help you select the filter that fits your refrigerator model. Be careful if considering an after-market water filter. They may be less expensive, but many don't filter as efficiently as the OEM filter, and won't fit properly, decreasing its effectiveness.

Do Maintain Your Appliances

Schedule a Sears Technician to professionally check and maintain your kitchen appliances annually so they continue to operate safely.

Range Maintenance

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.

Refrigerator Maintenance

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.

Dishwasher Maintenance

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.

Remember that your kitchen is more than just a cooking space—it's the heart of your home, where health and safety should reign supreme. By following these do's and don'ts, you're not just following guidelines; you're cultivating a culture of safety that protects you, your loved ones, and your cherished culinary creations. At Sears Home Services, we're committed to helping you maintain this sanctuary of safety and deliciousness. Let these tips be your guide, and take proactive steps to ensure your kitchen remains a safe haven, brimming with mouthwatering aromas and joyful laughter. Embrace these practices, and you'll enjoy the peace of mind that comes with a well-protected, well-maintained, and well-loved kitchen. After all, a safe kitchen is the ingredient that truly makes a house a home.

Schedule kitchen appliance maintenance now!

Regular kitchen appliance maintenance can help prevent costly breakdowns, reduce energy costs and extend the life of your appliances. We'll help you keep your refrigerator, dishwasher and range in top shape.

Call (213) 596-2538 or schedule online now.

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