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Feb 24, 2013

Cooking Safety 101

Whether you are an amateur cook who is just getting into cooking or you have a fair amount of experience but are looking for a refresher, you'll find that it is always handy to know what is safe for your kitchen. Your kitchen allows you to prepare delicious food for yourself and the people that you care about, but there are many risks that are involved with using it. When you want to make sure that you kitchen is safe, take a moment to look at these important tips.

Smother, Don't Douse
According to the National Fire Protection Agency, cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires and home injuries. If you somehow start a cooking fire, remember that you should always smother it rather than dousing it with water. Most fires that start in the kitchen start with grease, and splashing water on a grease fire can just cause the fire to spread! Instead, turn off the flame, put a pot lid over the fire, and if necessary, douse the flame further with baking soda. If you have a fire in the oven, simply close the door and allow the lack of oxygen to smother the fire.

Keep Your Cooking Area Clear
The rule of thumb in a kitchen is that if you have anything giving off heat, you should keep combustibles away from it. Combustibles are any items that can catch on fire, and that includes paper towels, fabric towels, aprons, oven mitts and cookbooks. The issue is that even a low heat can produce fire if the exposure is long enough, and keeping your cooking area clear will prevent a sudden burst of flames.

Keep Children Away
While it is always a good idea to teach children how to cook, the truth is that they need to be closely monitored in the kitchen. For very young children, make a three-foot radius around the stove a no-kid zone. Similarly, if you are teaching children how to cook, keep an eye on them and make sure that you only give them tasks that are child appropriate. For example, a young child may be able to handle mixing batter but he or she should not be given a sharp knife.

Store Your Meat Safely
If you cook with meat, you will find that it is the food that is most likely to contaminate your kitchen if you are not careful. When you get your meat home, remember to keep it in a sealed plastic bag or in a sealed container so that it will not drip on the rest of your food. The Minnesota Department of Health state that the raw juices often contain harmful bacteria, which is easy to spread to other foods. If you are not going to use your meat within a few days, put it in the freezer.

Dress the Part
When you are in the kitchen, make sure that your clothes are fitted to your body. Loose and flowing clothes can knock over items that are set on the counter, and even worse, they can catch on fire. If you are going to be doing a lot of cooking, remember that you should stick with natural fibers. Artificial fibers can melt if they get too hot, causing pain and injury.

Wash Your Hands
You likely already know that you always need to use a fresh cutting board when you are dealing with meat, but did you know that your hands are often the biggest source of cross contamination? Make sure that you wash your hands with hot and soapy water when you are cooking. The more you wash your hands, the less likely it is that you are carrying germs from one location to another.

If you are someone who is invested in kitchen safety, make sure that you think about what you are doing at all times. A little bit of mindfulness can go a long way in the kitchen!