The kitchen is a dangerous place. It's full of knives, cooktops, hot liquids and other hazards. A little advance planning can help to minimize these hazards and the October 2013 issue of ShopSmart, from Consumer Reports, identifies the kitchen products that cause the most harm and simple ways to avoid them.
ShopSmart ranked the kitchen products that send the most people to the emergency room. In descending order, they are: knives, ranges, cookware, slicers and choppers, microwaves and blenders. Below are some simple ways to avoid getting hurt when using these products and appliances. Importantly: Always keep a fire extinguisher with a minimum 5-B:C rating on hand.
KNIVES. Dull knives are more dangerous than sharp ones, so keep knives sharpened and stored in a block. Use a cutting board that doesn’t have a slippery surface, and place a damp towel under it to keep it from moving.
OVENS/RANGES. Install an anti-tip bracket to secure the unit in place. Never place heavy roasts and other food on an open oven door.
COOKWARE. Always use oven mitts to pick up hot pots and pans. If a grease fire starts, smother the flames with a cookie sheet or lid for 10 to 15 minutes to make sure the fire is out.
SLICERS & CHOPPERS. Don’t leave motorized models on for a long time; they can overheat. Never reach into a slicer or chopper. Because many parts, including blades, are dishwasher safe, don’t handwash them.
MICROWAVE OVENS. Be careful when removing a wrapper or cover from microwaved food; steam can escape and cause a nasty burn. Let food cool a minute or two before removing it from the microwave. Boil water on the stove; water heated in a microwave can become super-heated and erupt violently without warning.
BLENDERS. Most blenders don’t have safety interlocks, so don’t reach inside, especially if it is plugged in. To clean blades without touching them, add hot water and a bit of dishwashing liquid to the blender container and let it run on high for a minute, then rinse. If the blender has a container that disassembles, wash the parts in the dishwasher, as the rubber gasket can harbor bacteria.
The full report on kitchen dangers can be found in the October 2013 issue of ShopSmart, on newsstands now.