The kitchen is the hub of family life, but it’s also an environment that poses many dangers. Every year, 42,000 children under the age of five are admitted to hospital following an accident in the kitchen, but with a few simple changes and some safety considerations, you can keep your little one safe.
The oven and hob
These are key hazard hotspots, so it’s important to teach your child that the oven and hob are out of bounds. Always use the back rings on the hob, and turn handles to face away from the front so they can’t be knocked by you or grabbed by your child. Stove-top guards act as a barricade to heat and little hands, and you can also buy covers to discourage your child from playing with the knobs. Oven doors can get dangerously hot, so attach an oven guard to the front to reduce the surface heat by 50 per cent. Locks fitted to the door are another handy device.
Kitchen cupboards and drawers
Babies are naturally curious, so it’s wise to fit locks on cupboard doors and drawers to keep dangerous objects, such as sharp knives, out of reach. Plastic, push down locks are very common but can lose their shape after a while. Magnetic locks provide a more permanent solution. Some toddlers eventually suss out how to open the locks, so don’t assume that just because you’ve fitted locks, the cupboards are out of bounds.
Over 28,000 children are treated for poisoning accidents every year, and kitchen cleaning products are a common cause. Keep all chemicals locked away, out of sight and out of reach of children. Other items to stash away are plastic bags, boxes with serrated edges (such as aluminum foil) and glass items. If you have the space, keep your rubbish bin inside a locked cupboard too, or fit a suitable lock to the lid.
Hot pans and drinks
Don’t place pans, bowls of hot food or hot drinks close to counter top edges, where your toddler could pull them over. A cup of tea at 60 deg C can burn in just five seconds.
Keep electric flexes wrapped up and tucked right out the way with bread ties holding them in place, or use coiled flexes. If you’re buying new appliances, look for models with child-safe features, such as cool wall kettles and toasters. Protect sockets with child-proof covers when not in use, and store electrical items containing sharp parts, such as food processors, out of reach.
Tuck chairs under the kitchen table, and if you’re cooking with your child, never leave her standing on a chair while you nip out the room. It only takes a second for her to grab for a potential hazard that’s previously been out of reach. Also, avoid leaving your baby in her car seat or bouncy chair on a table or work surface; as she becomes more mobile, she may be able to rock the seat towards the edge and fall off.
Spills and breakages
Always clear these up immediately to avoid slips and cuts. If you break a glass, be aware that tiny sharp shards can scatter across a wide distance, so shut your child out of the kitchen until you’ve cleaned up thoroughly and make sure she wears shoes or slippers for the next few days.
Store matches out of reach, fit a smoke alarm and keep a fire extinguisher and fire blanket close by.
While it’s good to involve your child in preparing meals, at times, you may need to shut her out of the kitchen – for example, when you’re taking a hot dish out of the oven. Fitting a stair gate to the kitchen door, or using a playpen in the room, can help you keep an eye on her while also keeping her away from the potential hazard.