Trying to teach your teenager how to scramble an egg may have you rolling your eyes. But learning to cook is an important yet dangerous skill that kids will need for the rest of their lives. There’s no need to wait until your kid knows how to drive a car before you get them in the kitchen. Young kids love helping in the kitchen and the memories you’ll create alongside them make the mess worth it!
Your kids can never be too safe in a kitchen. According to Stanford Children’s Health, home cooking equipment is the leading cause of home fires and related injuries. The same agency found that most scald burns suffered by children, particularly those aged between 6 months and 2 years, are caused by hot liquids or foods being cooked in a kitchen, or other areas where food is being prepared.
This is why it’s important to take children aside and teach them how to run a safe kitchen when learning how to prep food and cook meals. Many will already have an idea of how to move about in the kitchen by having watched you over the years, but certain things, like chopping, can only be learned under adult supervision.
Here are our top 10 suggestions of food and kitchen safety tips for your children:
5 Food & Kitchen Safety Tips for Kids
Teach your kids to always wash hands before (and after) handling food, particularly raw meat and eggs. Warn them about germ contamination that can make them sick if they happen to touch their mouth while preparing raw food. Then there’s the issue of how to handle food that’s fallen to the floor. Some scientists say it’s okay to eat within five seconds of falling, others say not at all — the National Geographic explored this question. Decide for yourself and establish a household rule you’re comfortable with.
Teach your kids to prepare raw meat on a cutting board used only for that purpose. Be sure to tell them to always thoroughly wash the board and the knives used to prepare the meat when done.
Fruits & Veggies:
All fruits and vegetables should be washed before eating, even those with a rind such as oranges or melon. Tell your children that harmful microorganisms could be lurking on the rind, which means a knife can pick them up when slicing into the fruit. Yuck!
Kids naturally seek a comfortable way of cutting that may have them cut toward themselves. For safety’s sake, teach them to do the opposite, to always cut away from themselves, and how to properly hold a knife and use it.
Similarly, teach your kids to open the lid of a pot or pan on the kitchen stove away from them, not towards them. Under your supervision, so they’re aware of how heat travels, have them place a hand high above the steam to feel how hot it is. Have them imagine how much hotter the steam would be closer to their skin.
Make sure your kids never walk away from food being cooked on the stove top. Otherwise, the food may boil over, create a mess, burn a younger sibling, or even start a fire.
Teach your children to never leave cooking utensils in a pot or pan while cooking. Metal utensils will become too hot to touch while the plastic ones may melt in the hot food.
When it comes to baking, have them always make sure the oven is empty before preheating it, and to always use a couple of oven mitts to remove a hot baked dish from the oven. A job for older kids only, always be on-hand to supervise use of the oven. Never have them bake food without an adult nearby.
Show your child where the fire extinguisher is kept in the kitchen and how to use it. If you don’t have one yet, then, for the sake of your family, acquire one. Tell them what Plan B is, if for some reason, the extinguisher doesn’t work. This usually entails leaving the home at once and calling the fire department.
Test your kitchen smoke detector in front of your kids and let them know what the noise sounds like and means. From time to time, check that the detector is working so that all fire hazards are detected quickly enough to warrant an appropriate response.
These ten food and kitchen safety tips to teach are essential rules to implement when your kids are embarking on becoming junior food chefs. With patience, under your careful eye, with time they’ll adopt your rules as habits to keep for a lifetime.