City Kitchen Safety

How To Avoid and Treat Kitchen Accidents

City Kitchen Safety

How To Avoid and Treat Kitchen Accidents

A few weeks ago my sweet husband, Mark, volunteered to make dinner. While he will jokingly refer to himself as The City Dishwasher, in fact he is an able cook and would do more if I didn't monopolize our small kitchen. Among his specialties are steel cut oatmeal (that he toasts first in a tiny bit of canola oil) with fresh blueberries, fabulous bacon and perfectly cooked over-easy fried eggs that he serves with pan-cooked tomatoes, and salmon fillets poached in a fragrant court bouillon (his is made with water, white wine, a little lemon juice and lots of black peppercorns).

This particular dinner offer was for the salmon. I had been very busy with work so it was a gift to have the night off. But there was an unexpected cost to this dinner: when removing the fish from the pan, he spilled some of the boiling poaching water on the top of his foot resulting in a rather large third degree burn.

He is now fine. Thanks to good doctors and some patience on his part for all the special care one must give to treating a serious burn, he's gradually getting back to wearing shoes and his regular gym routine.

But the accident reminded me how dangerous our kitchens can be. In the case of my fish-poaching husband, the mistake he made was not so much the spilling. It was being barefoot.

When I went to culinary school, we all showed up for our first class, dressed in yet-to-be stained white chef jackets, eager to start making sauces. But in a case of delayed gratification, that first full day of class was instead spent on safety, including the prediction that by the end of the course, at least one person would head to the hospital either from a cut or a burn. And they were right. Someone did.

It doesn't matter if you're working at the flaming grill station in a steakhouse or in your small city kitchen, these are places where accidents can and will happen.

So at the risk of prompting you to have that same "I know this stuff" annoyed reaction as I had on my first day at The French Culinary Institute, here are tips for making your home kitchen a safer place and what to do if an accident happens.

Preventing Kitchen Accidents

Treating An Accident

These are the basic ways to treat a burn or cut. But I'm no doctor so use your sense and don't take any risks if something is serious -- get yourself to an emergency room. For lesser accidents:

-- Burns

-- Cuts

Kitchen Safety Trivia

The original design of the now traditional chef's jacket was motivated by safety. The long sleeves protect our arms and their little hairs from being scorched. The jacket is double-breasted so to protect the chest when leaning over a flame or into a blasting-heat oven. The neckerchief catches drops of sweat that can bead on your skin after hours of being in a hot restaurant kitchen. A kitchen towel is tied at the waist, under the apron's strings, to be handy for grasping hot pots. The hat keeps your hair from falling into food. The cuffs add protection to the hands and wrists.

And Mario's orange clogs? A bit of sartorial personality for one of the most important parts of any chef's work clothes: sturdy shoes that protect against a dropped pan or knife or yes, spilled boiling water.

My dear Mark's foot is on the mend. But he now jokingly tells anyone who will listen that he can't even boil water.



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