(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 experience 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.
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.
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 speak 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.
Gord 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.