Thanksgiving Day is just around the corner. Parents tend to use Thanksgiving as an opportunity to teach children the joys of working together and cooking in the kitchen. This is an important lesson but should be handled carefully. There are many hazards in a busy pre-Thanksgiving dinner kitchen that can be easily overlooked by busy parents managing children and food preparation simultaneously. Here are a few Thanksgiving safety tips for parents to keep in mind.
Keep children who aren’t helping out of the kitchen– Cooking involves high heat, sharp objects, dangerous fluids (salmonella carrying turkey blood, for instance), and concentration. Children running in and out of the kitchen can cause distractions and lead to forgetting safety procedures. There’s so much potential for danger; burns from hot pots and pans, touching unclean surfaces; that it’s not worth the risk. If they aren’t going to be cooking and preparing, try to have someone else keep an eye on them while you’re working on dinner.
Watch what they’re wearing– While you may already understand what’s proper attire for the kitchen, children who are new to this probably do not. Encourage your child to avoid loose clothing and dangling jewelry while they’re working on the meal. Ideally, the clothing should be of fire resistant material like treated cotton or polyester to prevent a fire-related accident. Also, jewelry that can catch on pot handles and other items may result in spills and burns and should be avoided.
Don’t leave the cooking unattended- While you should definitely tell your child to keep an eye on what they’re doing, sometimes children and teenagers get distracted. Even if your child isn’t prone to doing this, it’s a good idea to keep up with what your child is preparing at any given time just in case something unexpected happens. This way you both realize there’s an item on the stove that needs attending.
Remind your child to keep the kitchen tidy- Taking food from the wrapper, tossing it beside the stove, and preparing it may seem like a time saver in a teenager’s eyes, but that wrapper can catch fire if it’s blown too closely to the range. Other kitchen items- dish rags, pot holders, Thanksgiving decorations- pose similar fire risks. Additionally, there’s a risk for cross contamination if counters aren’t cleaned after meat preparation. The best way to prevent these accidents is by keeping a clean and clutter-free kitchen throughout the food prep process.
Be careful with the frozen turkey- If you’re not absolutely certain you child can handle the turkey’s weight, don’t allow him to carry it. As seen on Mythbusters, dropping a frozen turkey can result in a badly broken foot and could possibly cause the death of any small pets circling your child’s legs. Rather than risking a ruined holiday, handle the bird yourself until your child is older.
Avoid choking at Dinner- According to the American Red Cross, the most common cause of choking is talking while eating. Encourage your children to either eat quietly or talk between bites. While it may irritate your children, a bit of irritation is better than a potentially life-threatening choking incident.