Keeping the Kitchen Safe for Seniors

Author: Teresa Nelson

Everyone knows that the kitchen is the heart of the home. Whether you are a young mom or a senior family member, the kitchen is where we gather to chat while fixing dinner, enjoy a morning cup of joe in solitude, read the paper, or even go through paperwork. Seniors will tell you that the kitchen is often where they spend the most time, and unfortunately, kitchens are also the number one place in the home for accidents. How safe is your kitchen? Read on to find out what to look for to make sure your senior loved one’s kitchen is a safe place to be.

Checklist for Kitchen Safety

  1. Make sure all smoke detectors are functioning properly. This should be done on a regular basis. Either use a calendar or set a reminder on your phone to help you know when it’s time to change batteries in the smoke detectors. This should be done every 6 months.
  2. Clean the exhaust fan above the stove at least once a year. This is a prime spot for dirt and grease to build up, increasing the risk of fire.
  3. Don’t hang towels near the stove. Even though most of us hang cute dish towels on the handle of the oven, it is really not a safe idea, especially in a home where seniors live. Pot holders and towels can easily create a fire hazard when placed so close to hot burners and ovens.
  4. If your senior loved one is still living alone, consider installing an automatic shut-off on the stove. This will ensure their safety if they become forgetful about turning the stove and oven off after they cook. The device would turn the stove off if no motion has been detected after a certain amount of time.
  5. ALWAYS make sure there is a small easy-to-use fire extinguisher conveniently located in the kitchen. You should go over how to use it on a regular basis with your senior adult, just to make sure they feel confident should the need arise.
  6. If your senior loved one enjoys cooking, ask them to only wear short sleeves while doing so, to ensure that their clothing does not catch fire.

Other Safety Tips for Seniors

Another area of safety is in food storage. The greatest risk for contracting food poisoning is from improper food storage and wrong temperatures. Foodborne illness often comes when the temperature in the refrigerator is above 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Meats, dairy, and many other food items must be properly chilled to remain safe.

It’s also helpful to have good lighting around countertops and other food prep surfaces. This helps prevent accidents that come from not being able to properly see what you’re doing.

Keep knives and other sharp utensils out of reach from children! Little hands are always at risk in the kitchen, so make sure that children cannot get to storage areas with knives, can openers, or any other kitchen tools that could injure a senior or a child.

Preventing Kitchen Falls

More seniors fall in the bathroom and in the kitchen than any other room in the house. Help prevent falls in the kitchen by following these tips:

  • Place commonly used ingredients in cabinets that are easy to get to, so step stools are not needed.
  • Make sure all throw rugs have backing on them to prevent skidding. When it comes to rugs, safety should always be more important than décor.
  • Place nightlights that come on with motion along hallways or other areas in the house where a senior loved one might be walking during the night.

For more information on keeping the kitchen safe for your senior loved one or other safety tips for seniors, please contact us today!

Home Helpers of Eastern Idaho is a locally-owned, trusted home health care agency and offers quality, compassionate senior in-home care services including home care assistance, personal care, companion care, respite care, 24-hour live-in care, Alzheimer's & dementia care, Parkinson's care as well as homemaker services in Pocatello, Chubbuck, Blackfoot, American Falls, Soda Springs, Aberdeen, McCammon, and Lava Hot Springs, Idaho.

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