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 room is one of the most common sites for a household injury.  So if you want a recipe for keeping your child safe when you’re working in the kitchen, let me provide a few ingredients. 

  1. Keep your children a safe distance from hot liquids or better yet, keep your hot liquids away from your young children by putting them at the center of the table or the back of the stove.  Remember, at 140 degrees, a hot drink can cause a burn in 5 seconds, and at 160 degrees a burn can occur in only one second.  
  2. Keep pot handles turned-in so pots cannot be pulled off or knocked off the stove. 
  3. A great idea is to create a “NO ZONE” in front of your stove that is marked with yellow tape so that children don’t enter that area. 
  4. Keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen. 
  5. Try not to use tablecloths where there are toddlers because they might pull on them and down will come a hot liquid or candle.  
  6. Keep appliance cords unplugged and away from counter edges so kids do not pull on them and bring an appliance down on them.  
  7. Keep your knives, forks and other unsafe items as well as cleaning supplies, medications, and matches locked away from smaller children.
  8. Even refrigerator magnets can be a choking hazard so keep those out of reach too. 

To truly insure your child’s safety, the best bet is to keep them out of the kitchen when you are cooking because you simply can’t watch them every moment you are preparing a meal.  If you need to keep them in the kitchen, create a drawer for them that contains some plastic containers and toy cooking materials so they can play safely when they want to do what you do.  

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.  And remind everyone to wash their hands well before you handle food in the kitchen and especially before and after handling raw meat, fish and poultry which can be loaded with bacterial germs.   

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

Lewis First, M.D., is chief of Pediatrics at Vermont Children’s Hospital at the University of Vermont Medical Center and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the Larner College of Medicine at UVM. You can also catch “First with Kids” weekly on WOKO 98.9FM 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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