Help! I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up! Part 3

(Common Kitchen Injuries and How to Avoid Them)

        Separating Frozen Hamburger Patties:

An article by David Brown appeared in September 2011’s Yahoo Sports about baseball player Jeremy Affeldt.  The article relayed how Affeldt decided to use a knife to separate frozen hamburger patties at a family gathering.  He wound up (baseball pun intended) slicing his hand open very seriously. He missed the rest of that baseball season as a consequence.  Let this be a lesson to us all.  If a professional athlete in the prime of life lacerationseriously injures himself trying this, maybe the rest of us should just learn from his mistake.  If you forget to thaw out your patties, run them under cold water, defrost them in the microwave a little, or maybe eat your salad first and be patient while they thaw out a bit on their own.

Cutting Bagels:

Dr. Mark Fieldman authored a blog article entitled, “Seven things your mother never told you that will keep you out of trouble (and the ER)”.  In the article he covers the how-to of bagel cutting.  Here are his instructions: Place the knife gently atop the (vertically-oriented) bagel. Place your hand on top of the knife. Cut down onto the cutting board, not your hand.  Do you think maybe Dr. Fieldman has seen a-few-too many folks in his ER who have gotten into the habit of cutting bagels into the palm of their hands?

                               Cutting Board Slips:

Dr. Fieldman mentioned using a cutting board to cut your bagel.  What he didn’t mention was “the cutting board slip”. (Maybe he doesn’t see as many of these in his ER). An unanchored cutting board can result in a knife and a cutting board going their separate (and unpredictable) ways. Instead of cutting your food, that knife can you instead. Try cutting on a non-slip surface, or place a damp cloth or a rubber pad under the cutting board to keep it from slipping. And if you don’t own a good cutting board, now’s as good a time as any to invest in one, or put it on your Christmas or birthday list.

                                       Fire:

If you know any insurance adjustors, they will tell you that kitchen fires are very common. Here are a few tips to help minimize the risk of kitchen fires:

  • Keep pot and pan handles turned inward on your stove to avoid upending flammable contents.
  • Keep loose sleeves and flammable materials away from the hot stove.
  • Don’t multi-task when using your oven or stove especially when using oils/fats. (Yes, I know how distracting Facebook can be.)
  • Once your coffee is brewed, turn off your coffee maker.  (Keep it hot in a carafe instead of using the machine’s element.  It reduces fire risk and the coffee tastes better because it won’t get burned.)
  • Invest in a fire extinguisher rated for kitchen use.  They only cost about $25. (Why not put that on your Christmas or birthday list too?)

To avoid some of these common kitchen injuries/hazards, start by focusing on just one thing at a time.  Rather than making anyone feel guilty for what they are not doing, we hope something from part 1, 2 or 3 of this blog has inspired you to make a change.  And hey, if there is more than one thing, look at the bright side, maybe your Christmas/birthday list is almost finished!

Do you work in an ER? Are you aware of some other common kitchen injuries?  Let us know about them and how to avoid them.

 

Gords ApplianceGord Haines is a journeyman appliance technician with over 25 years of experience. Contact Gord’s Appliance for repair and servicing of all your residential appliances.

Help! I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up! Part 2

(Common Kitchen Injuries and How to Avoid Them)

 Slips, Trips & Falls

                                    Spills:

We all know that a slippery kitchen floor can be a recipe for disaster.  While banana peels on the floor may make for good slap stick comedy, slips are no laughing matter.  To avoid injury to yourself and others, take the time to clean up as you go. Keep paper towels andBanana Skin dry kitchen towels on hand to clean up wet spills.  Use your broom and dust pan, Dustbuster® or vacuum cleaner for dry spills.

                                            Trips:

Unfortunately we aren’t talking about the kind of trip you pack your suitcase for.  We have probably all experienced stubbing our toe or tripping on uneven ground as we are walking somewhere.  Usually our natural sense of balance kicks in and we are able to right our course.  It is a different matter to stumble while your hands are full or you’re rushing to tend to a dancing pot lid before the contents boils over.  This can lead to a serious fall.  In the long run it saves a lot more time if we all avoid letting clutter accumulate on the kitchen floor. And yes, “don’t run in the kitchen”.

                                     Falls:

The same way we avoid slips and trips, we avoid falls.  We know better, but we think, “I just need to change this one light bulb”, or, “I can’t remember if such-and-such is still in that little cupboard above the fridge – I’ll just hop up and check”. A good rule of thumb is: if it isn’t designed to be stood upon, don’t risk it.  Falls from rolling desk chairs or cardboard boxes are more common than you would think.

                               Chemicals:

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in the US, over 41,000 people died as a result of poisoning in 2008. [1] In 2013, the National Poison Center for the Washington, DC Metro area, (which has a population 5 times that of the Calgary CMA), received 38,197 calls from people exposed to a poison.  1,566 calls involved pet poisonings, and 44% of poison exposure involved children under the age of 6. [2] While Canadian statistics are more difficult to come by, these American stats may help us be more aware of the need for care and control of household chemicals, as well as our medications.  Maybe a frantic call to the ER can be avoided – at least when it comes to accidental poisonings – by using child-safe locks on cupboard doors, or keeping medications and kitchen chemicals out of the reach of children and pets.  While it may not be as convenient to get to, that pesky little cupboard over your refrigerator can be really useful for stowing things you don’t want your kids to get at.  (Some refrigerators can generate a lot of heat up top.  Be sure that cupboard isn’t too warm to house the chemicals or medications you are storing there.)

             Contamination/Cross Contamination:

Dirty sponges, cloths and cutting boards can be culprits in spreading salmonella, e-coli and lots of other “bugs”. Be sure to properly wash/sanitize kitchen supplies.  If you aren’t sure about proper food safety protocols, Alberta Health Services offers a Safe Food Handling course online, or you can sign up to attend a course.  You don’t have to work in the restaurant industry to take it.

In the hustle and bustle of daily life, it is easy to take short cuts that might not be in the best interest of kitchen safety.  Many injuries in life can be just plain fluky.  Let’s take care to avoid some common kitchen injuries that we can easily prevent.

 

Gords ApplianceGord Haines is a journeyman appliance technician with over 25 years of experience. Contact Gord’s Appliance for repair and servicing of all your residential appliances.

 

 

 

References:

[1]Poisonings: The National Picture (National Capital Poison Center)

[2]  Poisonings: The Local Picture (2013) (Washington, DC metro area) (National Capital Poison Center)

 

 

Help! I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up!

     (Common Kitchen Injuries and How to Avoid Them)

         “If I had 5 dollars for every person I’ve stitched up because they cut themselves opening a can of Alpha-Getti (pork ‘n beans, pasta sauce, tuna fish), I’d be able to retire today”.

          You don’t have to be an emergency room physician to be all-too familiar with the outdoor kitchenexperience of cuts from opening cans. While some people seem to possess an innate ability with kitchen gadgets of any variety, all of us have probably cut ourselves at least once using a can opener. Whether you are aspiring to heights of culinary genious, or simply fixing yourself a pot of good ol’ KD, kitchen injuries seem to be a rite of passage. However, there are a lot of things you can do to avoid having to stop what you are doing and look for a band aid, or worse, make a trip to the emergency room. Much of it boils
down to common sense, but knowing it doesn’t help us avoid injury – doing it does. I hope this blog will inspire all of us to adopt some safer kitchen practices.

                                 Pepper Burns:

Don’t find this one out the hard way! Hot peppers, depending on the type, can cause a chemical burn, especially to sensitive areas such as the eyes and lips. To avoid injury, use safety glasses and disposable gloves, or gloves that are designated “for hot peppers only”. Unprotected hands can suffer moderate irritation (and what those hands touch can suffer greater irritation!). Capsaicin, the ingredient in chilies that makes them hot, is oily so it soaks into your skin. Like a good moisturizer, it won’t all wash off with soap and water. (If you are interested in learning more about chilies, there is a great article in PR Newswire entitled “Hotter Than the Sun: Lovethegarden.com Launch Infographic About Chillies”). If you are mincing large quantities of chilies with a food processor or by hand, do so under your stove’s hood fan. Better yet, take your food processor outside and let nature do the ventilating for you. The vapour can really sting your eyes and irritate your lungs.

                                   Oven Burns:

If you have raised children or babysat those who have just started walking, you have likely used this phrase “hot, danger”, or a variation of it. We all know that touching the inside or even the outside of a hot oven, or a hot stove top can burn us. (Please note that the exterior of some ranges can also become very hot to the touch in the self-cleaning cycle.) Burns are easily avoided by being mindful and taking care. Investing in some proper oven mitts and using them is part of that. (Let me take a little moment here to oven - rangespeak directly to those of you who might be using the sleeve of your sweat shirt to take things out of the oven. Maybe it’s time to put oven mitts on your birthday or Christmas wish list this year) We are all in such a rush, let’s exercise a bit of patience and good judgement with the oven mitts. It only takes a couple of extra minutes as opposed to the consequences of not taking care: The 20 minutes of inconvenience holding a bag of frozen peas on the back of your hand, or worse, the X -hour wait in the emergency, or worse, a really serious burn.

                     

                   Large jars and containers falling:

It is one thing to break a foot while rescuing someone from a collapsed building. But there is nothing noble about hobbling around on a cast for 8 weeks because a Costco-sized jar of dill pickles toppled out of your over-packed refrigerator smashing your foot. And as a technician, I can tell you that your refrigerator will function more efficiently if there is a bit of “breathing” space between items. Unlike a freezer, a refrigerator works best without all the items packed together like people in a Tokyo subway at rush hour. Furthermore, an over-packed refrigerator can lead to spillage that goes unnoticed. As I mentioned in a the blog entitled, “Are Your Refrigerator and Freezer Cooking Too?”, uncovered food in the refrigerator, (or in this case spills), can cause a bigger problem than the mess. “Food dust” can make its way to the freezer portion of your refrigerator and clog the defrost drain. You get the point, a messy, over-packed fridge, upright freezer, or cupboard for that matter can lead to an injury/appliance woes. We can minimize the potential for these injuries by keeping cabinets, fridges, and upright freezers organized. And as a bonus, you are bound to save money because you won’t be buying duplicates.

          A great part of wisdom is learning from other people’s mistakes so we don’t make them ourselves. There are enough hazards in life that we can’t avoid, don’t let common, yet avoidable kitchen injuries sideline you from life.

Gords ApplianceGord Haines is a journeyman appliance technician with over 25 years of experience. Contact Gord’s Appliance for repair and servicing of all your residential appliances.