There are many tasks that are performed in the kitchen in a short period of time that can lead to kitchen safety risks for the people in your care if precautions are not taken.
The kitchen is a busy room in the house. It is where we create our meals for the day, snack, and socialize with friends. It is also where many dishes, cookware, utensils and food items are stored within multiple cupboards, on many levels, all in one room.
If you’re a caregiver, consider making some adaptations to increase kitchen safety for the elderly or for the individual in your care, to help maximize their safety and independence. The following are a few kitchen safety tips for caregivers:
Health and safety in the kitchen
- Avoid storing flammable items in the oven or on the stovetop
- Keep the kitchen workspace uncluttered
- Create a plan for taking out the garbage if the individual 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 pathways are wide enough to safely use the device
- Minimize the items that need to be carried and the distance they need to be carried
Minimize risks of spills and falls
- Wipe up spills right away to prevent slipping
- Pour liquids over a sink to contain spills
- Look at ways to adapt containers that are too heavy to lift (e.g. use a smaller container; lift food out of a pot of boiling water with a slotted spoon; tip a pitcher to pour instead of lifting it, etc.)
Cooking safety tips
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 items 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
- Use a device, such as a timer, as a reminder of when to check on cooking items
- Use a device called a stove knob turner if the person in your care has a difficult time reaching across the stove, especially 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 easy access to food
- If hand strength is a concern, check the weight of food and beverage containers to make sure they’re not too heavy
- Store food items in smaller containers and use smaller bottles to make these items easier to lift and pour
- Ensure that containers used to store food can be easily opened
- Small assistive devices can make kitchen tasks easier, such as 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.
At Elizz, we provide caregiver support for you and home care services for those who depend on you. Elizz is a Canadian company powered by Saint Elizabeth, a national not-for-profit health care organization that has been caring for Canadians since 1908.