The kitchen is the busiest room in the home. From food preparation to dining to balancing the checkbook, the kitchen is the center of activity for today’s family.
Unfortunately, the kitchen can also be the most dangerous room in the house. The National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) has developed a few simple guidelines to keep you kitchen safe.
1. Use proper lighting. Good general lighting, supplemented with proper task lighting that’s clearly focused on a work surface, can greatly decrease your chance of injury while preparing a meal. The lighting should not produce any glare or shadows on the surface.
2. Use slip-resistant flooring. Falling with a hot casserole or a sharp knife in your hand can have serious consequences. A slip-resistant material on your floor, such as matte-finished wood or laminate, textured vinyl or a soft-glazed ceramic tile, provides added safety. If you select tile, try using a throw-rug with a non-skid backing for added precautions, especially around areas that get wet.
3. Keep a fire extinguisher handy. The NKBA recommends that a fire extinguisher be visibly located near a room exit, away from cooking equipment. Never store an extinguisher near or under a cook top or range. If a fire is to occur, those areas will likely be the cause and make an extinguisher stored in that area unreachable.
4. Keep electrical switches, plugs and lighting fixtures away from water sources and wet hands. Building codes require that every electrical receptacle be grounded and protected with ground-fault circuit interrupters, which shut off the room’s electric current if there is a power surge or moisture is present. In addition, the NKBA recommends all wall-mounted room controls be 15 inches to 48 inches above the finished floor.
5. Regulate water temperatures and devices. Install faucets with anti-scald devices that prevent water temperature from rising to dangerous levels, or buy pressure-balanced valves that equalize hot and cold water. Faucets also are available that can be pre-programmed to your desired temperature setting.
6. Find a safe cook top. Avoid being scalded by steam from a boiling pot by opting for staggered burners or one straight row of burners on your cook top. And never choose a unit with controls along the back of the appliance; controls should be along the side or in the front.
7. Use the space safely. Think about how traffic will flow through the kitchen and make sure no one will interfere with your space when cooking. Locate microwaves conveniently above the floor to avoid reaching to retrieve food. Slide-out trays and bins in base cabinets make storage items more accessible to eliminate bending. Avoid putting a range near an entrance or exit. And lastly, avoid sharp corners on the ends of counter tops, especially islands and peninsulas, by having them rounded.
To ensure your kitchen meets and exceeds all safety standards, look to a professional to design your kitchen.