Cooking teaches children the lifelong benefits of cultivating competence in the kitchen, and the impending holiday season offers plenty of opportunities to do so. Honing culinary prowess also makes a great bonding experience that can fine-tune a child’s motor skills, confidence, and memory.
It is important to practice safety. Even a little baking to get in the holiday spirit can take an unexpected turn if you aren’t prepared. Sharp utensils, appliances, and other accouterments can cause bodily harm, however, you can protect your little one by utilizing these beneficial safety tips.
Keep Hands Clean
One should always wash hands before cooking. Not only does this simple task create a sense of cleanliness, it also prevents germs and illnesses from spreading to food and others. This time of year is a prime time for sickness, and nothing will dampen the holiday cheer for you and your children like a cold that leaves you feeling more stuffed up than the turkey.
Instruct your child to wash his or her hands, prior to cooking and eating, with basic soap and water to ensure they do not also pick up germs from an outside source. According to Livestrong, the repercussions of not washing hands can induce illnesses, such as a norovirus, which can lead to gastrointestinal damage.
Keep Fire Extinguishers Nearby
The kitchen seems to be in greater use during the holiday season. Pair that with the hustle and bustle this time of year inevitably brings, and there are more chances for a fire to break out, making fire prevention methods crucial. According to the National Fire Protection Association, smoke detectors should be placed near each room of a home, including kitchens, since you will be surrounded by potential fire hazards, such as the stove, oven, and electrical outlets. However, placing it near the stove could cause it to become ineffective. Instead, place alarms at least 10 feet away from cooking appliances in order to prevent false alarms.
Always check your smoke detector for any inefficiencies. Test smoke alarms at least once per month and make sure that your child and everyone else in your home can recognize it’s sound.
Fire extinguishers can help put out a fire should one start; however, not all are the same. Make sure you understand what types of fires your fire extinguisher can be used for: those marked as Class A, B, C and K are ideal for the kitchen area. The following categories depend on the materials an extinguisher can be used for, such as cloth, wool, and paper for Class A; Grease, gas and oil for class B; Electrical tools and appliances for class C; Flammable Metals for class D (industrial); Vegetable and animal oils and fats for class K.
Make sure that your extinguisher is easily accessible and maneuverable so you can quickly grab it when needed. Because a fire can spread so rapidly, make sure that everyone has left the room before spraying. Though fire extinguishers are safe, try to avoid inhaling or ingesting.
Utilize Utensil and Appliance Safety
All of your silverware, cutting and cooking utensils should be properly sharpened and handled with caution. Always supervise your child when they are cutting food with a knife or other sharp objects and never allow a child to handle or move around the kitchen with a knife without knowing proper etiquette. On the other hand, don’t be afraid to show your child the proper way to cut with a knife, using a cutting board while fingers are securely tucked in to avoid injury.
Small appliances should also be neatly tucked away or turned off until ready for use. Make sure that appliances are easy to handle and control, with easy-to-follow directions. Before each use, take a moment to help your child and teach him or her the proper way to utilize the equipment until they are capable to do so independently. However, reiterate to your child that there are certain appliances they should never operate alone. For example, it might seem like a good idea at the time to surprise you with gingerbread cookies, but the gingerbread men won’t be the only ones at risk of getting burned. In other words, an adult should always be present.
Never Leave Child Unattended
Never leave your child unattended in the kitchen. Gadgets with electrical outlets, sharp utensils, and potentially hot surfaces are all danger zones for an unsupervised child. If you must take a break, resume cooking after you are completed your task.
In the event of an emergency, such as a cut, scrape, or burn, you may be able to remedy the problem at home, or if injuries are severe, a visit to the emergency room may be necessary. Always have a First Aid Kit located somewhere in your home, that is inaccessible to children but reachable for adults.
While cooking is a fun-filled experience and a holiday staple, it can also become an unsafe activity for your child if certain rules aren’t abided by. Teach your little one the tools and tricks of cooking by being smart and always keeping safety first.
Daniel is a single dad raising two children. At DadSolo.com, he aims to provide other single dads with information and resources to help them better equip themselves on the journey that is parenthood.