If your parents or grandparents are reaching advanced age, it may be time to implement safety precautions around the kitchen. Doing so can help prevent injury, provide for a safe working environment, and accommodate their unique needs. In some circumstances, implementing the kitchen safety tips discussed below may even save a loved one’s life. Get started today.
Consider Automatic Shut-off Devices
One of the biggest risks with elderly parents or grandparents is that a kitchen burner or stove will be left on accidentally. A heat source of any kind can lead to a fire which may spread rapidly through the house. Even a fire that is caught early and contained can result in thousands of dollars of damage. To prevent this, consider installing automatic shut-off devices, like the CookStop. These devices, which use timers or motion sensors, shut off unattended stoves to prevent fires.
Keep a Fire Extinguisher Nearby
If there is a fire, it’s imperative that a fire extinguisher be within easy reach so that it can be put out before it has a chance to spread. When purchasing a fire extinguisher for the kitchen, remember that there are different types of fire extinguisher, each suitable for different classes or types of fire. If you don’t know which type of extinguisher to purchase, consult with a professional at your local hardware store. They can help you choose an extinguisher that will meet your needs.
Use Oven Mitts or Gloves
Burn injuries can easily occur when handling pots and pans, kettles, or other types of kitchenware around a heat source. To help prevent this, be sure to supply your parents or grandparents with proper oven mitts or oven gloves (ditch the pot holders, as they don’t provide adequate coverage). For elderly individuals, oven gloves may me easier to use than mitts, but ultimately, any solution is better than no solution at all. To help ensure that your aging parents use their oven mitts, hang them in a conspicuous place rather than store them in a drawer.
Buy Lightweight Pots and Pans
As we age, we lose muscle and bone mass. Items that you can carry with ease might prove burdensome for your parents or grandparents. This is only exacerbated with conditions like arthritis. If your loved ones are using older, cast iron pans, replace them with lightweight alternatives. Companies like Lloyd Pans Kitchenware and Neoflam manufacture lightweight pots and pans that are ideal for aging individuals (as well as those with medical conditions that might affect grip or dexterity).
Keep Work Surfaces Clean and Free of Clutter
Work surfaces that are clean can help prevent bacterial growth, which can lead to illness if left unchecked. Additionally, a work surface that is clear of clutter, particularly a work surface that is close to a stove top, helps prevent fire and other common kitchen injuries, such as cuts. Put simply, you want your parents’ kitchen to be a safe environment for preparing and cooking food – nothing more, nothing less. To do this, keep it clean and organized.
Ensure that Appliances and Electrical Outlets are Functioning Properly
In addition to grease and paper fires, kitchens are also at risk for electrical fire. For peace of mind and your loved one’s safety, have an electrician inspect all kitchen outlets and appliances. If any appliances have frayed electrical cords, replace them immediately. If outlets exhibit signs of shorts, they may need to be replaces as well. An electrician can recommend additional precautions to help safeguard against fire or injury.
Protect Against Fall Injuries
Another risk facing aging parents in the kitchen is fall injuries. Kitchen floors are often hard, smooth surfaces, and if a liquid is accidentally spilled, they can become very slippery. Needless to say, fall injuries are a real possibility with the elderly. If your loved one does fall and injure him or herself, how will they reach help? This is where medical alert devices like the Lively Mobile come into play. Worn on the clothes, around the neck, or on the wrist, this device enables an elderly individual to seek assistance in the event of an emergency, even if a phone is out of reach.
Replace Glass Items with Plastic
Finally, to help prevent cuts and puncture wounds, replace all of the glass items in your loved one’s kitchen with plastic kitchenware. This should include not only the glass cups, but glass and ceramic dishware as well. Why take this step? Because glass is easily broken, and shards can be nearly impossible to spot until it’s too late. Eliminate the glass and you eliminate the risk. Plastic cups, plates, bowls, and storage containers simply make sense for aging individuals – not only are they resistant to shattering, but they’re often lighter than glass as well.