Learning how to cook can be an exciting and rewarding experience for children. It is an excellent way to build a child’s skills and potentially develop an interest in culinary arts. However, the kitchen can also be a dangerous place, especially for children due to the fact that they are not as tall, strong, experienced, or mature as an adult. Because of this, it is necessary for adults to make the kitchen kid-friendly. This can be achieved by establishing and observing safety rules and teaching them to youngsters.
There are a multitude of dangers that face a child when they come into the kitchen. Kitchen knives and other sharp objects can cause cuts or even result in amputations of fingers. Children also face the risk of potentially disfiguring burns from stove heating elements, scalding liquids, or hot food. In addition, there are a large number of factors that can cause a kitchen fire. Wet floors present the risk of slips and falls, which can also cause burns if a child is holding a pot or plate of hot liquid or food. There is also the danger of potentially deadly food-related illnesses caused by spoilage or improperly handled food.
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Both parents or guardians and children must work together to make a kitchen more kid-friendly. Children who are cooking should always have adult supervision, especially when they are younger or doing it for the first few times. Sharp objects such as kitchen knives should never be within reach of a child except when they are cutting something under the supervision of an adult.
Because children can grab or bump into pots or pans and cause potentially dangerous spills, it is always necessary to turn all handles inward toward the stove or counter. This includes the handles of pots, pans and skillets. Keep metal objects out of microwave ovens, and never leave the kitchen while something is cooking. Whenever handling any hot objects, everyone in the kitchen should use potholders.
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Another key to a kid-friendly kitchen is for adults to establish rules for children who are present or who desire to cook or prepare food. It will be necessary to instruct children to never run or play in the kitchen. Ideally, kids should not be allowed in the kitchen while cooking is in progress if they are not participating.
Another important rule is to teach kids to use words like “behind you” to alert others who might back up into them and also look around them to see if it is clear to move. Instruct children under five never to touch any knife in the kitchen, while those older than five may work with butter knives to cut soft objects. Make sure that a child understands never to touch moving mixer beaters or hot stove tops. Finally, adults must lead by example and strictly follow the rules of kitchen safety themselves, as this will instill into children their absolute importance.
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Kitchen and Food Safety
To prevent illnesses from food-borne microbes and toxins, adults must show children the necessity of handling food safely. Teach children to wash their hands for 20 seconds before touching or preparing food. Clean up spills on the floor and on the counter between stages of food preparation. To prevent cross-contamination, never let raw food and cooked food mix, and do not put cooked food on plates or surfaces where raw food sat.
Wash fruits and vegetables before using them, preferably with a vegetable scrubber, and use hot, soapy water to wash all items and surfaces that have been in contact with food. Always cook raw meats to the proper temperature, which is 145 degrees Fahrenheit for pork, lamb, and beef, 165 degrees for chicken and turkey, and 160 degrees for ground meats. Make sure that the temperature in the refrigerator is kept no higher than 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and never leave food out of the refrigerator or freezer for more than two hours.
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