Food plays a major role in many holiday traditions. Unfortunately, cooking is also the main cause of residential fires according to the U.S. Fire Administration. This year there are also concerns about food preparation and the coronavirus pandemic to keep in mind. That’s why taking proper safety precautions in the kitchen is more important than ever.
As the holiday season approaches, WIN Home Inspection recommends these kitchen and cooking safety tips as you prepare your 2020 holiday meals.
10 Important Kitchen and Cooking Safety Tips for Holiday Meals
1. Take Fire Safety Precautions
It’s important to keep a fire extinguisher on hand at all times while cooking. Avoid wearing loose clothes while using burners. Store flammable items such as oven mitts, dish towels and pots away from the stove. Test smoke detectors once a month and replace the batteries at least once a year.
2. Ensure Appliances are Functioning Properly at All Times
Studies have shown that major appliances cause more than 150,000 homes a year. You can prevent many problems by cleaning electrical appliances on a regular basis and keeping dryer vents clear. If an appliance sparks, starts smoking, or makes strange noises, unplug it immediately and reach out to a professional for advice.
3. Wash Your Hands and Wear a Mask
Wash your hands with soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds before, during, and after preparing food. Wear a mask while cooking and serving anyone who does not live in your home.
Consider using disposable plates, silverware and cups that can be thrown away immediately after dinner. Guests should wash their hands before and after eating. Providing hand sanitizer is also a useful way to curb the spread of germs and viruses.
4. Follow Food Preparation Guidelines
Rinse all fresh produce under cool water and use a brush to remove surface dirt. Thaw frozen foods in the fridge, using cold water or in the microwave. Use different cutting boards to cut raw meats and chop vegetables to avoid cross contamination.
5. Frequently Clean and Disinfect
You’ll want to clean and disinfect your kitchen before, during and after cooking. Use soap and water to clean high-touch areas such as counters, faucets and doorknobs. Wipe down the stove and keep the oven clean to help remove grease that can cause fires. Soak plates and utensils in hot soapy water or rinse and place in the dishwasher immediately after the meal.
6. Monitor Appliances at All Times While Cooking
Unattended cooking is a leading cause of kitchen fires. Stay in the kitchen when using the stove, frying, roasting or grilling food. Use a timer and regularly check any items that need to be left in the oven.
7. Make Sure Food is Cooked Thoroughly
Use a food thermometer to make sure foods have been cooked to a safe internal temperature. Turkey, stuffing, side dishes and all leftovers should be cooked to at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
8. Keep Guests Out of the Kitchen
Keep guests out of the kitchen to limit the spread of COVID-19 and other germs. Have snacks, drinks and games on hand to keep others busy while the meal is being prepared.
9. Safely Store Leftovers
Store leftovers in sealed containers and refrigerate within two hours of cooking. Consider freezing any items that won’t be used within three to four days. Use a food thermometer when heating food to make sure the temperature is at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit. If any leftovers look or smell strange, throw away immediately.
10. Turn Everything Off Before Leaving the Kitchen
Double check that the oven, stove and small appliances have all been turned off before leaving the kitchen. Unplug slow cookers, toasters, blenders and other items when not in use.
These are just some ways to stay safe while cooking a meal during the holidays. It is important to practice kitchen safety throughout the year, particularly as we continue to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. These easy tips will help you make a delicious meal that is safe for your family to enjoy this holiday season.