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Drew: Cooking safety tips for older adults

By Samuetta Hill Drew

February 3rd through the 9th is National Burn Safety Week. It’s a week many fire related organizations will offer various seminars, workshops and/or distribute pamphlets on fire prevention for the average person.

The National Burn Association states that cooking is the number one cause for most of home fires. They report that 47 percent of all home fires are caused by cooking. Their report continues to state that adults 65 years and older are at a much higher risk for injury or death from a kitchen fire due to physical, visual, hearing and mental impairments that may slow the quick action necessary in a fire emergency. In addition, older adults’ skin is far easier to burn faster and deeper because it is thinner. This article will review some fire prevention tips for everyone to use while cooking, but especially older adults.

It is recommended you use your back burners first when cooking. It is further suggested that the best time to cook is when you’re wide awake, not drowsy from medications or alcohol. For those persons still working, it is best to cook when fully alert, not tired from drive home traffic. So, stop, exhale and compose yourself before cooking your dinner meal. This may be a great time to change clothes to make sure you’re wearing a short sleeve top or a fitted long sleeve top. Never cook in loose fitting clothes which could potentially catch fire quickly.

Before cooking always make sure your stove, oven and exhaust fan is wiped clean to prevent any grease buildup.  Keep a pot lid and dry potholders or oven mitts close by EVERY time you cook. Always have your pot handles turned inward toward the back of the stove. Use a splash guard or lid when frying foods to prevent grease splatter. If some grease does splatter on the floor be sure to wipe it up immediately to prevent a slip and fall injury.

When frying, grilling or broiling food, it is best to stay in the kitchen. If you must leave, turn the burners off. If you’re simmering, baking, roasting or boiling food, you may leave the kitchen momentarily, but you should return frequently to check your food. Never leave your home while food is cooking in the oven or on the stove. A good cooking gadget to use is a timer. It will help remind you to check your cooking.

It is best to use microwave safe cookware when using the microwave. It allows the steam to escape.

To Keep an Eye on Safety after you’ve completed cooking your food item(s), check your kitchen to make sure all burners and other appliances are turned off. This provides you an excellent opportunity to wipe clean those items you used for cooking.

Next week we will continue this discussion by reviewing some fire safety tips if your food does catch fire.