Recently parents have been cooking up lots of questions about children and kitchen safety. Since children and parents spend a good deal of time in the kitchen, it’s no surprise that it is one of the most common sites for a household injury.  If you want a recipe for keeping your child safe when you’re working in the kitchen, let me provide a few ingredients.

First, keep your children a safe distance from hot liquids. Or better yet, place hot liquids at the center of the table or the back of the stove. A hot drink at around 140 degrees can cause a burn in five seconds. At 160 degrees, a spill can burn a person in one second. 

Try not to use tablecloths where there are toddlers or they could pull on them and down will come a hot liquid. Keep pot handles turned in so pots cannot be pulled off or knocked off the stove. Parents don’t forget that you too are at risk, so pull up those long sleeves and don’t reach across the stove when it is on to prevent your clothing from catching fire. 

It’s also good to keep appliance cords away from counter edges and unplugged so children do not pull on them, potentially bringing an appliance, or the hot food or liquid inside the appliance, down on them. 

Keep your knives, forks, cleaning supplies, medications and matches locked away from smaller children at all time. Even refrigerator magnets can be a choking hazard, so keep those out of reach too.

A great idea is to create a “NO ZONE” in front of your stove that is marked with yellow or red tape so that children don’t enter that area.

The best bet is to keep your children out of the kitchen when you are cooking to truly ensure their safety. But if you need to keep them in the kitchen, then consider creating a drawer for them that contains some plastic containers and toy cooking materials that they can play with when they want to “cook” and do it safely.

Hopefully hot tips like this will cool down your concerns when it comes to worrying less about your child getting burned or injured when things are cooking in your kitchen. 

You can also catch “First with Kids” weekly on WOKO 98.9FM and WPTZ Channel 5, or visit the First with Kids video archives at

Lewis First, MD, is chief of Pediatrics at The University of Vermont Children’s Hospital and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the Robert Larner, M.D. College of Medicine at the University of Vermont.

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