The kitchen is the fulcrum of a home. It is where food is prepared, and where groceries and vegetables are stored. But as much as the kitchen is the most paramount room in a home, it can also be the source of hazards, especially when there are small children at home. In Kenya, child burns are most common among children aged five years and below. They mainly occur in the kitchen.
How can you ensure your kitchen is safe for your children?
Cabinets, drawers, and accessories
Install and use safety latches and locks for cabinets and drawers in your kitchen. These locks will keep children away from accessing potentially harmful substances such as medicine and detergents, knives, and lighters. If you use a stove, ensure that you add knob covers on it, especially if it is within a child’s reach. This will prevent the child from accidentally turning it on. Besides potential burns, stove knobs will prevent fumes from filling your home. “When buying an oven, consider if it allows for the covering of knobs or if it has safety latches that will prevent children from rotating knobs towards the ‘On’ positions,” says interior designer Carole Andeka.
Food and spices
Do not leave sharp objects such as knives on your counter edges because your child can easily reach them and injure themselves. “You don’t want to keep your knives or other sharp objects near the edges of your counter when working in the kitchen. Push them back to the wall or store them in closed cabinets,” says Andeka. Children will attempt to copy what you do while in the kitchen, and if they can reach a knife, they will do so to make their act as close to real as possible.
Additionally, mind how you store your spices. According to pediatrician Dr. Warui Kimaru, spices such as nutmeg or cinnamon can cause suffocation and asphyxiation in children younger than one. “Don’t lay out your spices on the countertop or make a habit of placing your one-year-old on the countertop while preparing meals,” he cautions. Apart from cinnamon and nutmeg, store fruits and foods that come in small sizes such as grapes away from your child’s reach to avoid the possibility of your child choking on them. This also includes small toys which your child might carry to the kitchen. One of the methods to determine if a fruit or food is a choking risk is using the toilet tissue tube measuring about 1.25 inches. If it can fit in this space, it is a choking hazard.
Kitchen power sockets and cables
All your electric outlets in the kitchen must be covered and out of your child’s reach. According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), young children are more at risk of getting electrocuted by kitchen power accessories. Young children can pull out electrical plug heads from the socket and poke the socket holes with their fingers. This can easily result in electrocution.
“Your covers must be covered at all times, be resistant to tampering, and must not be made up of small pieces which can become susceptible to swallowing and choking,” says Andeka. You can use large furniture in the kitchen to cover sockets. For example, you can place your fridge in front of your sockets. In addition, keep items with long cords away when they are not in use. These could be a mixer that uses an extension cord or a microwave. “Heavy accessories with dangling cords mean that your child could tug on them, pull down, and injure themselves. At the same time, your child could unknowingly strangulate or asphyxiate themselves with the cords,” Andeka says.
The kitchen door
Most kitchens will have two doors. One door will lead to the living area and the other to the kitchen backyard. Use doorknob covers and door locks to prevent children from entering the kitchen. Ensure that your doorknob cover is sturdy, and allows a door to be opened quickly by an adult in case of emergency.