Tip For Little Kitchen Helpers

Make Safety a Tradition in Your Holiday Kitchen

Safe Kids Kansas offers kitchen safety tips for your little helpers

TOPEKA – For many families, the holiday season includes cooking or baking traditional foods in the kitchen. With a few simple safety steps, children can join in the fun and make memories for a lifetime.

“When kids are in the kitchen, supervision is key,” said Cherie Sage, Safe Kids Kansas (sponsored in part by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment). “Whether helping an adult cook or simply watching, children should always be in sight and in reach at all times. If you will be busy with preparations, ask another adult or teenager to watch the children as they perform age-appropriate tasks.”

Burns—from spills, steam, hot surfaces and flame—can be especially devastating injuries. Because young children have thinner skin than adults, they burn more severely and at lower temperatures. Scald burns from hot liquid or steam are the most common type of burns among children ages 4 and under. A child will suffer a full-thickness burn (third-degree burn) after just three seconds of exposure to 140-degree water.

Safe Kids Kansas recommends these precautions against kitchen burns:

  • Keep children within eyesight of a hot stove. Unattended food on the stove is the number one cause of home fires.
  • Never hold a child while cooking or carrying hot items.
  • Cook on back burners whenever possible and turn all handles toward the back of the stove.
  • Wear close-fitting clothing in the kitchen.
  • Keep hot foods and liquids away from the edges of counters and tables. Be especially careful around tablecloths—children can pull hot dishes down onto themselves.
  • Tie up the electrical cords of small appliances. A toddler playing with a dangling cord can pull a toaster or microwave down from a countertop.

In addition to hot surfaces, hot liquids and sharp objects, the other major hazard in the kitchen is poison. Store potential hazards, such as cleaning products and alcohol (including many baking extracts), in locked cabinets out of reach. Also, install a carbon monoxide detector to alert everyone to get out of the house if there is a buildup of the odorless toxic gas given off by fuel-burning appliances.

Children who can follow directions may be ready to help in the kitchen with tasks that do not involve knives, appliances or heat. Some examples of child-friendly tasks include: tearing lettuce, rinsing fruits and vegetables under cold water, stirring ingredients in a bowl, using cookie cutters, measuring dry ingredients or cutting soft fruits with a butter knife.

“You know your own children. Don’t give them knives or let them handle anything hot until you know they have the maturity and coordination to do it safely,” said Sage. “Some children mature faster than others, so it’s up to parents to use good judgment about each child’s capabilities.”

For more information about safety and burn prevention, visit www.safekidskansas.org.


About Safe Kids Kansas

Safe Kids Kansas works to prevent childhood injury, the leading cause of death and disability to children. Safe Kids Kansas is a member of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of organizations dedicated to preventing injuries in children. Coalition members include over 70 statewide organizations, agencies and businesses and a network of local coalitions across the state. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment serves as the lead agency for the coalition. Visit us at www.safekidskansas.org and on Facebook.

About the Kansas Department of Health and Environment

The KDHE is the State agency that oversees the divisions of Environment, Public Health and Health Care Finance, which includes the Kansas Medicaid program known as KanCare. The agency of more than 1,000 employees seeks to protect and improve the health and environment of all Kansans. Visit us at www.kdheks.gov, on Facebook and Twitter.

This information can be made available in alternative accessible formats upon request. For more information about obtaining an alternative format, you may contact Safe Kids Kansas at 785-296-1223, or

[email protected]. Both speech/hearing disabled and hearing Kansans can access the Kansas Relay Center by calling toll-free 1-800-766-3777. Callers should inform the relay operator of the number they wish to call and the type of call they are making direct, credit card, collect, person-to-person, etc.

Protect and Improve the Health and Environment of all Kansans

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