Seven Kitchen Safety Tips For The Holidays

At GoHealth Urgent Care, we want to make sure you and your family have a happy and healthy holiday season! Here are seven kitchen tips to follow to ensure you and your family stay safe this year.

1. Don’t rinse a raw turkey.

Many people think that if they rinse the turkey before they cook it, they’ll wash away harmful bacteria like salmonella that poultry can contain. However, this practice actually does more harm than good because it causes bacteria-containing droplets to splash across the sink, cooking surfaces, utensils, and nearby food, contaminating the entire kitchen.

Instead, experts recommend patting the turkey with a paper towel before cooking it, and then thoroughly washing your hands.

2. Clean before you cook.

It’s important to decontaminate all cooking surfaces, kitchen appliances, and cooking utensils before you start cooking to make sure harmful pathogens don’t contaminate the food you’re preparing.

It’s also important to wash your hands with soap and water for at least twenty seconds before you begin cooking, and before you handle each new ingredient.

3. Keep children and pets away from the stove.

Every year, half a million people in the U.S. sustain a burn injury that requires medical treatment. Children are particularly susceptible to burns due to their curiosity and their immature cognitive and motor skills. Because of this, it’s important to either keep small children out of the kitchen or closely supervise them while you’re preparing a holiday meal -- especially when the stove is in use.

It’s also wise to keep pets out of the kitchen while you’re cooking, since they can pose a tripping hazard, and can accidentally knock hot ingredients off of the counter or stovetop.

4. Handle knives carefully.

Lacerations (cuts) from knives are the most commonly sustained kitchen injury, affecting thousands of people in the U.S. every year. 

To avoid ruining your holiday with a knife injury, take extra care when you’re handling these potentially dangerous utensils.

When you’re walking with a knife, hold it blade-down. Use a knife appropriate for the ingredient you’re cutting. Cut all food on a flat surface (like a cutting board). You'll be surprised how avocado hand injuries take place when people are careless. And when you set the knife down, make sure it’s a safe distance from the countertop’s edge.

5. Don’t leave appliances unattended.

Whether you’re using a stove, an oven, or a deep fryer to prepare your holiday feast, it’s important not to leave cooking appliances unattended while they’re in use.

By keeping a close eye on appliances, you’ll be able to intervene in the case of a faulty appliance, excess smoke, or fire. And you’ll also be able to ensure that pets and small children don’t sustain burn injuries due to lack of supervision.

6. Adhere to food safety guidelines.

By properly preparing, cooking, and storing food, you’ll be able to lower the risk of foodborne illnesses that sicken millions of Americans each year.

Prepare raw meat away from other ingredients to avoid cross-contamination. Use a meat thermometer to ensure that poultry and meat are cooked to their recommended temperature. Don’t leave perishable foods sitting at room temperature for more than two hours. And when it’s time to put leftovers away, store them in sealed containers in a refrigerator that’s at or below 40 degrees F.

7. Practice fire safety.

Four of the most common days for house fires in the U.S. fall on holidays: Thanksgiving, the day before Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Christmas Eve.

To avoid this holiday danger, make sure you take precautions that ensure the safety of you and your loved ones. As mentioned before, never leave kitchen appliances unattended while they’re in use. Keep matches, lighters, and electrical cords out of children’s reach. Make sure your smoke detectors are in working order. Do not leave lit candles unattended. And keep a fire extinguisher nearby whenever you’re cooking.


Written by Sarah Thebarge, Physician Assistant