Simple steps keep young holiday helpers safe in the kitchen

Published: Dec. 12, 2019 at 9:48 PM CST
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From hot stoves, to sharp objects and raw foods, the kitchen Is a hotbed for holiday accidents.

Teresa Taylor, RN with Stormont Vail and Safe Kids Shawnee County says a key ingredient for avoiding them is watchful eyes.

"Any time the oven or stove is on, any time there's anything hot on in the kitchen, an adult needs to be there and be supervising," she said.

Safe Kids says burns are the most common kitchen injury for kids. Use caution around the oven, and keep handles turned back on the stove to prevent spills.

"Within just a matter of seconds, children can become severely burned from hot liquids. Because they have thinner skin than adults, it doesn't take as much exposure for them to have more severe burns," Taylor said.

Beware of dangers from appliances - dangling cords can tempt little hands to pull items off the counter and moving parts can catch hands, hair, or hoodie strings.

Also, keep knives and other sharp objects out of reach.

"Have them helping with maybe butter knives, chopping easy things, until they get that control of their hands," Taylor said.

Some ingredients can stir up trouble, too. Many flavor extracts have high alcohol content. And sorry - but no licking the beaters or bowl.

"You're using egg, and egg is similar to meat products - how we need to heat them and kill off any potential bacteria," explained Kyrstie Lindhorst, RD, LD, a dietitian at Cotton O'Neil Heart Center. "Same with licking the bowl - I know it's really common but just to be safe, you want to be sure that you're not doing that."

Hand washing also is important so nothing harmful from those raw ingredients stays on your hands and makes you sick. And keep a fire extinguisher handy, since the kitchen is a common place house fires start.

Despite the risks, Taylor said the kitchen can still be a good place for kids. Find age-appropriate ways they can help. Recipes, for example, can even help reading and math skills.

"Even preschool age can help dump dry ingredients, wet ingredients into bowls, help mix a little bit, crack eggs and things," she said.

Taylor says early exposure to kitchen activities can help skills grow with your child.

"Having them safely in the kitchen observing what you're doing, having them be a part of food prep," she said.

Early lessons make for sweet moments down the road.