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Safe Use of Kitchen Knives

One of the most important safety rules about knives may surprise you: Always use sharp knives. A sharp knife requires less pressure in cutting than a dull knife does, and your hand is less likely to slip.

Here are some other tips:

  • Cut correctly. Use the correct size and type of knife for the job you are doing. For example, a small knife is best for trimming vegetables; a long knife for carving meats.  Don’t hold something in your hand when cutting it. Use a large cutting board. Curl your fingers under when holding food and cut away from you. Keep your fingers away from the blade.
  • Keep your eyes on your cutting. It’s easy to get distracted by children, TV, and telephones when preparing meals.
  • Let falling knives fall. Don’t try to catch a knife. Step back and let it go.
  • Watch where you put down a knife. Keep knives away from the edge of a cutting board or counter. Don't throw a towel or napkin on top of a knife so that you can't see it. Never leave a knife in a sink or soapy water, where someone may reach in without looking and grab the blade. Clean, dry, and put away a knife after you use it.
  • Store knives safely. Storing knives in a drawer isn’t good for the blades or your fingers. Instead, store knives in a knife block. If you have small children, make sure it's out of their reach.
  • Teach children knife safety. Teach children to walk, not run, in the kitchen. Young children can help out in the kitchen using a plastic knife. When they are old enough to handle a real knife, supervise them and teach them the rules for knife safety. Show them how to always carry a knife pointed down (like scissors).

Taking Fire Safety Seriously

Fires and burns are another kitchen hazard and the third leading cause of accidental home injury deaths. Cooking is the main cause of home fires.

Tips to prevent fires include:

Have smoke alarms that work. About half of fire-related deaths in the U.S. occur in the 5% of homes that don’t have smoke alarms, according to a 2005 report by the National Fire Protection Association. In homes with smoke alarms where fires were reported, nearly a quarter had alarms that weren’t working. The most common reasons: missing, dead, or disconnected batteries.

Install smoke alarms on every level of your home and in or near each bedroom. If possible, get some of each kind of smoke alarm -- photoelectric and ionization -- or buy combination alarms that have both types of sensors. Equally important, test alarms monthly and replace batteries every six months to a year.