For many, the kitchen is one of the most important rooms in the house. It’s where you make and eat meals and is often a common gathering place. With its mix of appliances, sharp objects, and hazards, it’s also one of the most dangerous. While the title may be a bit fatalist, FoodBeast’s infographic “Your Kitchen Is Trying to Kill You” illustrates just how many injuries, fires, and deaths originated in the kitchen each year.
With its mix of appliances, sharp objects, and hazards, the kitchen is also one of the most dangerous rooms in the house.
This isn’t to say you shouldn’t cook. In fact, we believe it’s an essential skill that everyone should have. It does mean that kitchen safety is important, and a regular safety check will help you maintain this. When doing this safety audit, you’ll need to check everything. This is your chance to make sure everything in your kitchen is safe.
Food Health Check
Chief among the things to check in your kitchen is that the cleanliness and freshness of your food and cooking surfaces are up to standard. Take this time to clean every surface in the kitchen, including the floor. Move coffee machines, decorations, toasters, etc., and clean underneath and around those, too. Try to clean around appliances, as well as other hard to reach areas. This is also a good time to change out your sponge and wash your dish towels, which can accumulate dirt and bacteria. At the same time, don’t forget to clean inside the refrigerator, which is often ignored.
Take this time to clean every surface in the kitchen, including the floor and around appliances.
An important aspect in food health is, of course, the freshness and quality of the food. Look in your pantry, cabinets, and fridge and check the expiration dates and freshness of each ingredient. Expiration dates aren’t always entirely accurate or available, so it helps to know how to identify the freshness of each ingredient. Verifying this can prevent foodborne illnesses down the road. Some common signs of spoiled food are a bad or sour smell, mold, or discoloration. For meat, look for a slimy or stickiness as well.
You can learn more tips for keeping your kitchen clean by reading our “5 Common Kitchen Mistakes Making You Sick.”
Equipment Safety Check
Next, you’ll want to check out the general safety of your kitchen. Besides food, this includes everything from the tools you use to cook to things you keep in the kitchen. For example, examine your pots, pans, and cooking ware. Are they rusted, flaking, or chipping? Then it may be time to purchase new cookware. You’ll also want to check your utensils for similar signs of wear and tear.
Next, check the general safety of everything from the tools you use to cook to things you keep in the kitchen.
It’s also important to check the sharpness of your kitchen knives. It may seem strange, but a dull knife is actually more dangerous than a sharp one. See, with a dull knife, you push harder to cut, making it more likely the knife will slip. A properly sharpened knife should glide through what you’re cutting. A knife sharpener is an inexpensive, but important addition to any kitchen. You can check the sharpness of a knife by testing it out on a sheet of paper.
General Safety Check
You may be a very careful cook, but fires are common in the kitchen which makes smoke alarms essential for this room. During your safety check, make sure that the batteries in your alarms are charged. You should also test the alarms to make sure they’re working.
During your safety check, make sure that the batteries in your alarms are charged, and the alarms are working.
Finally, it’s important to make sure your kitchen is secure. Specifically, that you’ll be secure in your kitchen. Look for any slipping hazards that may exist, such as unsecured kitchen mats. You can replace them with non-slip kitchen mats or secure them with anti-slip tape. If you find an area that’s slick from a spill, like grease or water, clean it up. If you cleaned all the floors and surfaces in your kitchen already, this shouldn’t be an issue, but it’s better to double check. You’ll also want to see how secure any hanging items, like pot and pan holders or shelves/cabinets, are. If they feel unstable, look to fix this quickly, before they fall, potentially hurting you or a loved one.
With all these in mind, there’s a few other things to remember. First, the more often you use the kitchen, the more often you’ll need a kitchen safety audit. Once a month is suggested, but if you’re a frequent cook, it may be worth checking every other week.
The more often you use the kitchen, the more often you’ll need a kitchen safety audit.
You also shouldn’t wait until your regular safety check to be safe. A kitchen safety check is simply a time that you’re guaranteed to check on everything, but it shouldn’t be the only time you do this. If you notice something is out-of-date or is unsafe, fix it before it causes an issue.
These are only a few examples of things to check during your kitchen safety audit. Below, we’ll add a more complete list of safety rules to check for. And if you notice something that’s unsafe that isn’t on this list, fix it too!
A Home Kitchen Safety Checklist
- Check all packaged food expiration dates
- Check the freshness of other foods
- Clean and disinfect all counters and surfaces
- Vacuum and mop kitchen floors
- Clean around and behind appliances
- Clean and disinfect surfaces inside the refrigerator
- Clean inside of oven to remove any grease or flammable substances
- Clean stovetop to remove any grease or flammable substances
- Wash all cutting boards/surfaces
- Verify all appliances are in working order (i.e. refrigerator maintains safe temperature)
- Check pots, pans, and cookware for wear and tear or unsanitary conditions (i.e. grime build up or rust)
- Check utensils and silverware for wear and tear or unsanitary conditions (i.e. grime build up or rust)
- Check plates for wear and tear or unsanitary conditions (i.e. grime build up or rust)
- Replace the kitchen sink sponge
- Wash used hand towels
- Check the sharpness of kitchen knives and sharpen if necessary
- Check all fire alarms or smoke detectors thoroughly
- Ensure all hanging items in the kitchen are secure and sturdy
- Remove or secure any slipping hazards on the floor