Holiday Safety Tips with Dr. Courtney: Cooking and Meal Preparation

The holidays are synonymous with family gatherings, good times, and lots of cooking and meal preparation. However, it is also a time of the year during which cooking fires and other accidents in the kitchen increase. 

Why are cooking fires much more common during the holidays?

Four times the average number of cooking fires occur during the holidays than on any other day of the year. Many of these are the result of individuals attempting to fry a turkey indoors at their stove. Not only is this hazardous to your health, but it also creates the risk of property damage to your kitchen and home. 

If attempting to fry a turkey for the holidays, it is recommended that the fryer be set up outdoors and away from the home, outside porch, and any lawn furniture or landscaping that you wish to preserve. It is also recommended that individuals do not overfill their turkey fryer with cooking oil. The oil will reach very high temperatures and leave scalding burns on the skin if accidentally spilled or splashed. 

What potential health hazards should we be aware of when cooking for the holidays?

One of the main reasons cooking for the holidays presents so many dangers is the increased number of distractions. Whether this is additional friends or family members in your home or attempting to multitask cooking and other activities, there are many ways in which we can lose track of our cooking.

Is it safe for children to be involved in cooking during the holidays?

Involving children in cooking activities can be a great way to introduce them to concepts like responsibility and safety. However, it is important to be mindful of a child’s maturity levels and fine motor skills, and older children may be better suited to help in this regard. Always start with simple and safe tasks such as learning how to operate a microwave or rinsing produce. 

Overall, children should be kept away from the kitchen unless specifically helping with the cooking. Parents should be mindful of pots and pans on the stove that may spill over if bumped or grabbed or knives and other cutting implements left out on the countertops. Likewise, parents should keep an eye on all cooking appliances that are currently being used, such as a blender, stand mixer, or cheese grater. These appliances should be stored as soon as they are no longer needed. Teach children always to approach the stove as if it is on and use caution when opening or closing the oven door. 

Finally, keep a list of emergency contact numbers readily available on the fridge in case of emergency. 

Remember to use caution this holiday season to avoid injury and to make every day merry and bright. 

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