girl reaching to a pot on the stove

Accidents happen in the home every day, frequently in one of the most dangerous rooms in the house--the kitchen. When children suffer accidents in the kitchen, they usually involve a fall, a burn, poisoning, or choking. What can you do to keep your child safe? Here are some tips to help you reduce the risk of such dangers.

Reducing the Risk of Burns
The kitchen is full of things that can burn a young child. Stoves, ovens, microwaves, hot pans and utensils, and even water that's too hot can all burn a child's tender skin. To prevent burns, take the following precautions:

  1. Always supervise young children in the kitchen. If you're cooking or doing other activities that may harm a child, have someone else supervise him or her in another room; put the child in a high chair with a snack; use a safety gate or playpen to keep the child away; or occupy the child with a toy or safe task.
  2. Teach your child not to touch hot appliances, particularly the stove or oven. Always place panhandles out of reach. Consider buying child-safe appliances. Check around you before opening the oven door.
  3. Remove tablecloths and placemats while children are young; they may tug on the material and bring hot containers down on top of them. Never give children pans to play with, as they might not understand that they can't play with the pans you're cooking with.
  4. Be very cautious when serving young children hot food or beverages. Always taste it or feel it before serving. Lukewarm is better than hot. Microwaved foods can often scald little ones.
  5. Install child-safety locks on all kitchen cabinets and drawers.

Reducing the Risk of Falls
Young children can easily fall off tall chairs, particularly if they're trying to reach something on a table. Little legs can also slip on wet or greasy floors. Keep your child free of falls by keeping these tips in mind:

  1. Never turn your back on a young child in a tall chair. Instead, place him or her in a high chair or a chair that's closer to the floor and use the safety belt when applicable.
  2. Purchase non-slip rugs for a tile or linoleum floor and make sure throw rugs are secured with a rubber mat.
  3. Don't allow baby walkers in the kitchen. Babies in walkers are particularly prone to accidents.
  4. Safely tuck telephone and electrical cords out of the way and keep the floor clean of grease, water, and other liquids.

Reducing the Risk of Choking and Poisoning
Young children love to explore by putting things in their mouths. Small items can lead to choking, while cleansers and other chemicals can quickly poison tiny bodies. Here's how you can avoid the risk of poisoning:

  1. Keep all medications out of reach of children and ask your pharmacist to put child-resistant caps on all prescriptions.
  2. Keep the floor clean of all nuts, seeds, small fruits, popcorn, and other potential choking hazards.
  3. Keep chemicals out of reach. All cleansers, bleach, drain cleaners, oven cleaners, and detergents should be hidden away behind child-proof doors. Also consider using non-toxic cleaners on floors and appliances.
  4. Don't allow young children to play in or around the kitchen--especially when they're unsupervised

Other Tips for a Safe Kitchen
In addition to the tips listed above, keep all sharp knives, scissors, and tools out of reach of children. Consider a lock for your refrigerator when your child gets old enough to open it. If your child wants to help you cook, consider getting a play set of cooking tools for him or her to use. Start teaching safety when your child is young, and he or she will learn to be careful in the kitchen and injury-free.