by Amanda Mize
Scullery and Prep Chef
I have always been accident prone.
The first time I rode a scooter to school, I hit a pebble and went down hard, knocking my teeth on the road. I never told my parents about that. In fact, I never told them about a lot of accidents I had over the years, like the longboarding mishap or the road rash I got from slipping on a wet sidewalk at a friend’s swimming party. They have no idea how many accidents I’ve had, and I want to keep it that way.
For someone who has so many scars from so many accidents, working in a kitchen seems like a terrible career choice. But actually, it’s a good thing because I’ve had to train myself to be super careful and follow good safety rules. The truth is that anyone can get hurt in the kitchen. When you get too confident and ignore the rules, that’s when you’re in trouble.
My boyfriend likes to tease me that the reason he does most of the cooking is because I’m not safe in the kitchen. (I let him think that because I’m just glad to have a break from being in the kitchen all day at work!) But once in a while, I get the urge to cook at home. Recently, I made grilled cheese sandwiches. I didn’t cut myself. I didn’t get burned. There was no accident of any kind. I have to admit, I was feeling a little proud of myself as I carried my sandwiches up the stairs to show him what I’d done.
And that’s when I slipped on the stairs and dropped the plate.
Life is hard for us accident-prone people, but I swear, we’re the safest people around if we follow good safety guidelines. Here are a few kitchen safety tips I’ve had to learn along the way:
Kitchen Safety Tips for the Accident Prone
Make your workspace safe.Before you turn on any heat or pull out anything sharp, make sure you’ve cleared out any pets, children, or amorous partners. Don’t leave anything where it can fall, be bumped, or overheat. Have a fire extinguisher nearby as well as a cookie sheet or other flat surface to smother a fire. Also, no slick surfaces.
Don’t wear anything loose.Tie up your hair and avoid loose-hanging clothes or jewelry.
Never reach into something you can’t see.This includes murky water and drawers that are out of your vision. If you have a bin full of dirty utensils, pour it out rather than trying to sort through it by hand.
Don’t dump broken glass into the trash.It will cut through the plastic and hurt someone carrying it. Place broken glass in a used cardboard box, an opened tin can, or some other waste container that won’t easily be cut open when it’s in the trash.
Make sure your cutting board is secure.You don’t want it to slide around! If it’s on a slick surface, lay a damp cloth flat underneath your board.
Keep your knives clean.For health safety, you should always keep your tools clean, but be extra careful not to use a knife that has oil or grease on the handle.
Make a flat surface on anything you cut.The first cut a chef makes is often one that creates a stable, flat surface so that the object will rest firmly in place.
Don’t use anything wet to shield you from heat.A wet towel will burn you just as badly as a pan if you try to use it as a hot pad.
Don’t wear plastic gloves under grilling gloves.Trust me. Just don’t.
Don't get complacent.This is the hardest rule to follow, but it's the most important. When you stop paying attention and start thinking, "I got this!" that's when you spill your beautiful grilled cheese sandwich on the stairs.