The kitchen can have several safety hazards if precautions are not taken.
The kitchen is a busy room (if not the busiest!) in the house. It is where we prepare our meals for the day, eat, and socialize with friends and family. It is also where many dishes, cookware, utensils, and food items are stored within multiple cupboards and shelves on many levels.
Consider the following tips to increase kitchen safety for the individual in your care. These tips may help increase both safety and independence.
Safety in the Kitchen
- Avoid storing flammable items in the oven or on the stovetop
- Keep the kitchen workspace uncluttered
- Wipe up spills right away to prevent slipping
- Pour liquids over a sink to contain spills
- Create a plan for taking out the garbage if the person you are caring for is unable to do it on their own
- Make sure that there is adequate lighting over the kitchen workspace, eating area, and walkways
- Keep pathways clear for walking
- If the individual uses a mobility device, ensure that pathways are wide enough to safely use the device
- Minimize the items that need to be carried and the distance that they need to be carried
Remind the person in your care of these kitchen safety tips while they are cooking:
- Never leave cooking food in the oven or on the stovetop unattended
- Let hot liquids cool before pouring
- Use small appliances with automatic shut-off switches
- Strain pasta/vegetables right from the pot using a slotted spoon or hand colander to avoid having to lift heavy pots to pour out hot liquids
- Set a timer as a reminder for when to check on cooking items
- Use a device called a stove knob turner if the person in your care has difficulty reaching across the stove - this is especially helpful when the elements are hot
Accessing Kitchen Items Safely
- Store commonly used dishes, utensils, cookware, and food where they can easily be reached
- Store lighter items on the higher shelves and heavier items on the lower shelves
- Leave small appliances that are commonly used on the counter to minimize lifting and carrying
- If door knobs are difficult to grasp, change the doorknobs or attach a string to open the door
- Store commonly used items within reach near the front of the fridge or use a lazy Susan for easier access to food
- If hand strength is a concern, check the weight of the food and beverage containers to make sure they’re not too heavy.
- Store food items in smaller containers and use smaller bottles to make heavier items easier to lift and pour (tip a pitcher to pour the liquid instead of lifting it, etc.)
- Ensure that containers used to store food can be easily opened
- Small assistive devices can make kitchen tasks easier (e.g. ergonomic jar and can openers, pour spouts that can be attached to bottles, etc.)
- Keep a Reacher assistive device in the kitchen to access items that have been dropped on the floor or are stored in difficult to reach cupboards - be sure not to lift anything breakable or too heavy when using a Reacher device
You might also like our article on Home Safety Tips Checklist for Seniors and Caregivers.