Kitchen Safety Tips - Do’s and Don’ts of the Kitchen

Kitchen safety tips for the holiday season

Help keep the fun going — and the accidents at bay — this holiday season with these home appliance 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. Cooking equipment is the leading cause of home fires and injuries, according to the Electrical Safety Foundation International, so it’s essential to keep your kitchen in tip-top shape, especially before dusting off your holiday recipes.

We’ve gathered a list of kitchen safety tips to help ensure you and your family can enjoy the season accident-free.

  • DO plan properly

Check that you have everything you need before you begin cooking. For example, if you’re making a turkey, make sure you have a meat thermometer. If you’re doing a lot of slicing and dicing, have enough cutting boards available so you don’t cross-contaminate foods. Don’t prepare raw meat on the same cutting board you’ll be using to chop herbs or veggies.

  • DON’T defrost foods on the counter.

Proper food safety includes defrosting foods in the refrigerator instead of on the counter, where germs and bacteria can contaminate other surfaces. When defrosting in the fridge, allocate 24 hours for every 5 pounds of meat. You can also try the cold-water thawing method, but it requires more attention since the water should be changed every 30 minutes, according to the U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Service.

  • DO make sure smoke alarms are working.

Almost half of all house fires occur during the holiday season, from November to March, with Thanksgiving at the peak, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Make sure your smoke alarms are up to code, have fresh batteries and are functioning properly, especially during these high-risk months.

  • DON’T leave foods out longer than two hours.

Consider how long those leftovers have been sitting out before grabbing your second helping (or third — no one’s judging). Leaving dishes out for more than two hours is one of the biggest food safety concerns during the holidays. Refrigerate temperature-sensitive dishes after everyone has filled their plate to ensure bacteria don’t make them breeding grounds.

  • DO clean the stove and oven regularly.

Keeping your stove and oven clean, including the exhaust hood and duct over the stove, is important for preventing fires and accidents in the kitchen. Try running your hood filter through the dishwasher once a week when doing a lot of cooking. If that doesn’t cut it, soak it in a mix of baking soda and boiling water.

  • DON’T keep leftovers within reach of curious pets.

Among the holiday commotion, pets are bound to try and sneak an unbidden bite from the table. But our furry family members typically can’t safely digest foods prepared for humans. Be sure to store foods after serving or keep dishes covered while pets are around.

  • DO get creative in and out of the refrigerator.

You might need to think outside the icebox when it comes to storing those leftover casseroles. Portable outdoor coolers make great temporary storage for drinks, condiments and that extra pie. To save fridge space, use your cookie cooling rack to create an additional makeshift shelf. Clear storage containers are the best way to keep foods fresh, organized and visible.

Follow these kitchen safety tips, and have a safe holiday season!

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