Tips for Childproofing Your Kitchen

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The kitchen is a place filled with the sweet aromas of dinner, and happy memories of baking cookies with mom, but it also harbors a multitude of dangers for small children. Everything from the oven to the can opener has the potential to cause injury to a curious child.

It is imperative that, of all the rooms in the home, the kitchen is childproofed to the fullest extent. This gives parents peace of mind, and makes it less alluring to inquisitive toddlers.

The Stove Top

The oven is the most dangerous appliance for a child with little to no safety features out of the box. The burners on the stove top either burn red with electric power, or blue with natural gas flame. A single touch of a burner or an overturned pot of stew can cause serious burns to a child.

Burners should be turned off the second they are no longer in use. There will be several minutes of residual heat that can cause burns, and there isn't much that can be done except stay in the kitchen preparing food until it cools off. When the burners are not being used, cover them with specially designed covers. This keeps them out of sight and out of mind for toddlers.

Pots on the burners should have their handles turned inward toward the stove, not hanging over the edge. Children can grab the handles and overturn them, causing severe burns.

The Oven

Oven temperatures often range between 350 to 500 degrees when in use and can severely burn a child. When unused, children can climb into the oven. If the oven is self-cleaning, then it comes with a lock for the oven door. This lock should be on at all times to keep youngsters from opening the oven door.

If the oven does not have a lock, then there are oven locks available at most department stores that are easy to install. Ideally, an adult should be in the kitchen whenever the oven and stove top are in operation, but for some meals that isn't possible, so it's important to make that area as safe as possible.

The Refrigerator

At first glance, the icebox doesn't seem like much of a safety hazard for children. It can, however, be very dangerous. If a small one climbs into a refrigerator and the door shuts, the child could suffocate or suffer from hypothermia.

Another danger comes from all those little glass jars. To prevent shattered glass in your kitchen, make a point to buy as many options in plastic packaging as possible.

Safety isn't the only reason for childproofing a refrigerator. Eggs, milk, juice and many other foods and liquids can be fun for a child to spill all over the floor. Cleaning up kitchen messes from spills is time consuming, wastes a significant amount of food, and can be a slippery hazard that may lead to injury from slips and falls. There are refrigerator locks available that adhere to the side and lock the door, so only an adult or older child can open it. Hopefully, by the time the children figure out the lock, they won't be interested in throwing a carton of eggs on the floor for fun.

Cutlery

Most homes have a variety of cutlery for carving meats, pealing fruits and vegetables and spreading condiments. These objects are usually sharp, and can easily cut small children, sometimes seriously. If a child runs with a knife and falls on it, then it can cause serious injury.

Knives that come in a container such as a large, wooden block, should be placed in hard to reach areas, or stored in locked drawers or cabinets. All knives and sharp objects should be hard for children to access, and are best kept out of sight.

Appliances

It seems most kitchen appliances either have a blade or generate heat, which means they can be very dangerous to a child. Most appliances, such as can openers, toasters and blenders, aren't used very often and can be stored for safety reasons. Remove such appliances from counter tops and place them in a locked cabinet. This not only keeps the children safe, but also opens up valuable counter space.

The microwave is a large, kitchen appliance used frequently. It is a safer machine because it cannot be used with the door open, but it does have some issues. Children can place items in the microwave and if it is on an unstable or rolling cart, then it can fall on them. Children might also place items that are not safe to microwave, which can lead to dangerous scenarios. For example, a child might heat a chocolate bar wrapped in foil in the microwave causing a fire.

Place a lock, similar to the ones used for refrigerators, on the microwave to keep children from using them. Mount the microwave under a cabinet if possible or place it on a sturdy counter top, far from the edge.

Other larger appliances such, as dishwashers and freezers, should have locks as well keep the door shut. Child safety switches for garbage disposals and trash compactors are also a good idea when childproofing your kitchen.

Cleaning Supplies

The kitchen is home to many cleaning supplies from dishwashing liquid to bleach, and ingestion, skin contact or inhalation of many of thsee products by a child can cause injury. Cleaning supplies should be stored together under the sink in a locked cabinet. As a precaution, parents may want to place two locks on the cabinet to make sure there is little chance of a child entering that cleaning cabinet.

General Rules

All cabinets, regardless of what is in them, should have a lock as a precaution. Just because a parent doesn't think something is dangerous doesn't mean a child can't fall or pull objects down upon themselves.

Kitchens are generally filled with a vast amount of electrical sockets. Items not in use should be unplugged, with a protective cap or lock placed over each electrical outlet. These plastic, protective plugs will cup children from sticking their fingers in socket holes and can be found in packs at most home and garden supply stores.

Last Updated: January 28, 2012
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About Brock Cooper Brock Cooper is a freelance writer for IdealHomeGarden.com. 

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