Top 10 Ways Your Kitchen Is Trying to Kill You (PHOTOS)

Liz Alterman | Jan 13, 2015 Home & Garden

child pot on stoveThe kitchen is often considered the heart of the home -- a place where everyone gathers round to see what's cookin' and possibly sneak a taste or two while a meal's being prepared. 

But, unfortunately, the kitchen can also be one of the most dangerous spots in the house. Between sharp knives, hot pots, and bacteria hiding in every crevice, it's enough to make you want to just order take-out!

And thanks to cooking shows like 'MasterChef Junior,' curious kids are craving a piece of the action. As much as you might want to support their new interest, you don't want to spend the afternoon in the emergency room, right?

But before you hang up your apron for good, we found some food safety experts who shared their picks for the most dangerous spots in the kitchen and offered suggestions on how to stay safe while still cooking up a storm. 

Have you ever had a serious accident in the kitchen? 

 

Image © Monkey Business Images/shutterstock

  • The Stove

    1

    This seems like an obvious danger, but did you know that, according to FEMA, nearly half of all home fires are caused by cooking? The main contributor? Leaving food cooking unattended. To protect yourself and your family, stay in the kitchen and keep an eye on not just the food but everything surrounding it, the agency suggests. 

    For example, get those potholders, dishtowels, and plastics from food packaging out of the way. I've learned this the hard way after I once set an oven mitt on fire while making a cup of tea because I'd wandered into the dining room for few seconds. Luckily, I was able to grab it by the non-flaming end and toss it in the sink. Lesson learned!

    Additionally, don't wear clothing that has the potential to dangle down near flames. And if you must leave the kitchen, set a timer or keep an oven mitt on your hand as a visual remind to get back in there ASAP! 

  • Bagels

    2

    Did you just say, "Bagels? Bagels? Where's the danger there?" We'll tell you! That innocent looking circle of dough is more menacing than you'd think.

    Americans ate an estimated 3 billion bagels at home in 2008, according to Freakonomics.com, and while slicing those bagels, nearly 2,000 people cut their fingers so badly, they ended up in the ER! 

    “By the finger-cut-to-E.R. metric, that makes bagel-cutting the fifth most dangerous activity in the American kitchen,” the site states.

    To avoid potential injury, consider picking up a bagel slicer that cuts only food and not your fingers (Amazon, $17).

  • Cleaning Products

    3

    Dave Wentz, who co-authored The Healthy Home with his father, Dr. Myron Wentz, recommends swapping those chemical-laden cleaning products for natural ones you can make yourself. Safer for you and the environment, they're also less expensive, and in many cases, more effective, Wentz states. 

    More from The Stir: 11 Natural Cleaners You Already Have in Your Home (PHOTOS) 

  • Dirty Sponges

    4

    Sure, sponges help you do the dishes, but they can also be breeding grounds for all sorts of disease-causing bacteria. So, what can you do to kills those germs?

    Institute of Food Technologists spokesperson on food and kitchen safety Dean Cliver, PhD notes that microwaving sponges for about one minute sterilizes them. But he cautions that the sponges should be damp because a dry sponge can catch fire in a microwave -- making them a danger on a whole 'nother level! (Who knew?)

  • Not Washing Your Hands Frequently & Drying Them Well

    5

    Handling ingredients that may contain bacteria, such as raw meats and eggs, can spread germs like wildfire if you're not washing hands before touching other ingredients, appliances, and doorknobs. Just remember to dry them well as wet hands are another danger if you're plugging and unplugging cords into outlets. Not thoroughly drying your hands also makes glass jars extra slippery and more likely to hit the floor or your foot!

  • Knives & Blades

    6

    Kitchen safety experts caution cooks to be sure to put those knives, blenders, and food processor blades away carefully. If any part of the serrated edge is exposed, you run the risk of cutting yourself if you're rushing and not focusing. If knives or blades are in the sink, make sure they're not hidden from view by soapy or cloudy water. If you stick your hand in to drain it, you may be in for a painful surprise. 

  • Slippery Floors

    7

    Let's face it: We all get a little sloppy in the kitchen. Whether it's because we're rushing or thanks to the help our tiny sous chefs (the kids) who insist on cracking those eggs for us, a lot can end up on the floor. And if you're not careful, so can you. So take a moment to clean up spills, including those ice cubes that are puddling near the fridge, as you go, so you don't go flying.

  • Taste Testing

    8

    We know it's so tempting to lick the spoon that stirred the cookie dough, but the safety experts at FoodSafety.gov caution against it

    "Uncooked eggs may contain Salmonella or other harmful bacteria," the agency advises. "When it comes to some germs, such as Salmonella, all it takes is 15 to 20 cells in undercooked food to cause food poisoning. And just a tiny taste of food with botulism toxin can cause paralysis and even death." 

    OK, maybe that batter doesn't look so delicious after all -- especially when you consider that about 50,000 cases of Salmonella infection are reported in the United States each year and about a third of those are in kids 4 years old or younger, according to KidsHealth.org.

    So no matter how much they might beg you, it's best not to let the kids lick the bowl. Sorry.  

  • A Dirty Fridge

    9

    Ready for a gross statistic? Most Americans clean the fridge once, maybe twice, per year, according to The Wall Street Journal. Unless there's a major spill or a nasty smell, most people are content to just keep sticking new food in there when supplies run out. But that can be dangerous, experts warn, as bacteria left behind can contaminate untainted food. Experts suggest cleaning everything: shelves, bins, drawers, and the sides of the fridge as well to ensure each potential bacteria-causing splatter is gone for good.

  • Electric Mixer

    10

     

    Kids love a chance to work the electric mixers but they've been known to break little fingers. Also, be sure to tie hair back as that can quickly get tangled in the beaters and cause serious damage or injury.

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