Danni’s mom was busy cooking dinner when she heard Danni’s cry. The toddler had found the food processor. While her parents had proactively and carefully put the blades out of reach, the slicing discs were still down low. Danni had pushed her finger through the space in the discs, getting it stuck, when she realized that pulling it out meant pulling back against the slicing blade. 

We all gather in the kitchen. for food prep, to homework, to just socializing, but it’s also a place where we parents may be distracted. The rush to prep dinner, the kids’ hunger (or “my tummy is empty,” as my toddler says), or a toddler’s curiosity about the blue light on the stove all raise the chance that you’ll have to leave the kitchen for the ER. 

But there are preventative steps you can take. Some of my fondest memories are of baking cakes and trying new foods with my toddler in the kitchen. If you take these steps, you can have the peace of mind that the most used room in the house is also a little bit safer.

This blog is the second in a series that walks you through your house, room-by-room, to eliminate the biggest hazards. Find the first installment on bedroom safety here. In this installment, we’ll look at the kitchen.

Danger Zones
  • Stove—Not only is the kitchen the leading source of fire in a home, but one study found that there are five ER visits an hour for injuries related to stoves—41 percent of those injuries are in kids 19 and under.
  • Chemicals under the sink—Where do you keep some of your harshest chemicals? According to SafeKids, 70 percent of us keep them in a cabinet under the sink. The problem? Three in 10 parents in the survey don’t have cabinets locked., We can’t rely on “baby-proofed” bottles either—Clorox recently had to recall Liquid Plumr Clog Removers because it was found that the Child-Resistant Closures were easily opened by children. Kids are also enamored by shiny, colorful detergent pods, which is why we’re seeing more and more children in the ER after biting into them. It only takes one swallow of many of these chemicals to cause irreversible injury.
  • Sharp items—Being cut or pierced is the third leading cause of non-fatal injury in kids in the home. Where do you keep your knives? Are they within reach? (I thought my knives were out of reach until my daughter proudly showed me that she could reach them after a growth spurt!) What about the blender? Or the blades of the food processor, as in Danni’s case?
How to keep it safe?
  • It can be tough to cook with kids around. Right in the middle of meal prep, your child needs help on the potty—like, now. If you have to leave the kitchen, for even a short period of time, turn off the stove. 
  • Set the timer when you’re cooking anything, even items on the stove. If you get distracted, the timer will remind you when time is up—before you set off the smoke detector.
  • Remove everything from under the sink, but kitchen cleansers that you must have at hand. Also, put anything particularly corrosive elsewhere. Then, put your best child-proof lock on the cabinet under the sink.
  • Don’t use detergent pods. Ever. They’re an extremely hazardous candy-look-alike. Liquid detergent works just as well without the risk of an ER trip.
As for Danni? Well, I learned a few things about how to take apart a food processor that night. While the food processor was no longer intact, Danni’s finger still was, with only a few scratches. Kids, one; kitchen, zero. Let’s all take steps to keep it that way. 

What hazards have you found in your kitchen – and what did you do about them?  Tweet me @DrDarria or let me know on  Facebook @Dr Darria Long Gillespie!

Thanks to contributing author, Dr. Darin Williams.