Kitchen Tips: Safety First (or else…)

9 Jul

I shall call this post, “The Cast Iron Battle – Skillet: 1. GKG: 0.”

Obviously, it all went down like this:

I’d like to think I’m cool enough to be Manny Pacquaio in this scenario. Then again, I did end up with 2nd degree burns. (But I look so good in pink and white. Dangit.)

As the fairly epic scars on my left hand remind me, I suffered a pretty nasty burn at the hands (er, hand-le?) of my cast iron skillet a couple of weeks ago. The timeline went something like this [written in the poetic style of Bridget Jones]:

7:05 Take my flaming-hot skillet out of a 450˚F oven using an oven mitt. The deep dish pizza (chicken with mushrooms and tomato sauce) inside said pan looks beyond delicious.

7:06 and 29.5 seconds Space out for about .5 seconds, thinking – one can assume – about impending pizza tastiness.

7:06 and 30 seconds Unwitting left hand grips cast iron skillet handle. Why? No idea.

7:06 and 31 seconds Shriek at some ungodly-high-octave and begin hopping around my kitchen, in the hope that hopping will stop burning sensation immediately.

7:06 and 33 seconds Wisely conclude that hopping is ineffective.

7:06 and 40 seconds Begin running cold water over burn as the History Teacher whips together a makeshift ice pack (my hero!). Sit with said ice pack for about an hour and a half, until hilariously-unbearable pain necessitates trip to Emergency Room.That conversation went something like this:

Me: [general moan of pain]

The History Teacher [THT]: So I looked up how to treat a burn on Web MD … one thing it says is to keep ice OFF of blisters, because you can apparently get frostbite.

Me: WHAT? [Momentarily snap out of pain-moaning at the prospect of inducing frostbite by accident.]

THT: Uh, I don’t know! I’ve always treated burns with ice. The pack’s probably fine. Are you ok?

Me: … let’s go to the hospital.

THT: I’ll grab my keys.

Dear Chevy: Riding in a Sonic saved my life. Or may have just saved the skin on my left hand. Thanks, y’all.

The rest of the adventure mostly involves a waiting room (painful), wrapping up my hand in an Ace-bandaged contraption (and renaming it Mitt, due to the mitten-like nature of its bandaging – guess my left hand, ironically enough, is a Republican) and visiting 3 or 4 late-night pharmacies to fill a prescription for painkillers. As I faded into a drug-induced coma, I started thinking about safety tips I’ve picked up in my past years of cooking. Here, friends, is the bulk of my hard-won wisdom.

Top 9 Safety Tips for the Budding Chef

  1. Keep your knives sharp using an at-home sharpener like this one. Dull knives = more cuts and scratches. Seems strange, but it’s true.
  2. When chopping, slicing and dicing, cut away from your body. If the knife slips for whatever reason, it’ll be pointing away from your not-so-knife-friendly body.
  3. When frying food in oil (fish, fries), gently drop food into the oil from a minimal distance. When your beer-battered fish dive-bombs into oil from 6 inches above, it will result in grease splatters and potential burns. Ugh.
  4. Don’t leave the kitchen with burners on. Unless you want to risk an overflow of pasta water or bubbling-over bisques giving your floors some kind of hot liquid carpet. Ew.
  5. Don’t let pot and pan handles hang over the stove’s edge; turn handles towards the side of the stove, where they’re easy to handle but won’t risk getting knocked off the burner by a nearby klutz (read: me).
  6. When you’ve finished cooking, turn off burners and your oven immediately. I’ve damaged pasta pots before by pouring out and draining the pots’ contents, then returning the pot to its still-hot burner and forgetting the burner was still going. Love your pots and pans, my friends.
  7.   Make sure small appliances – blenders, food processors, etc. – are unplugged before touching their blades / scooping out contents. Visualizing the alternative is enough to keep this one in mind. (Something “Saw” –esque, I suppose. Oy vey.)
  8. If, perchance, something does spill, clean up all spills – especially those on the floor – immediately. If you’re going for a Three Stooges routine as you cook, you may want to stick to a Fisher-Price “kitchen.”
  9. And lastly, when using a cast iron skillet, remember that the entire pan will heat fully, whether on the stove or in the oven. To keep yourself safe, keep a pot holder on the handle as soon as it’s out of the oven. (Thanks for the tip, Amy!) Even if it heats up a bit, the pot holder serves as a helpful reminder. And, God forbid, if you do burn yourself, run cold water over the burn until the pain starts decreasing. If it’s just a minor burn, ice and an Advil will do the trick. If you suspect it’s more serious, get thee to the Emergency Room.

Stay safe, my friends. While my summer school students think my scars are pretty sweet (and having 12 year-olds help you invent a better backstory than “I burned my hand on a skillet” results in GREAT ideas, let me tell you), I wouldn’t have minded avoiding the experience altogether.

What are your kitchen horror stories? Hopefully nothing too serious, but experience is the best teacher. Any other safety tips you can share?


3 Responses to “Kitchen Tips: Safety First (or else…)”

  1. amy July 9, 2012 at 9:52 pm #

    Don’t slice sub buns while holding them in your hand. Use a cutting board because your nice sharp knives are sharper than you think and will make quick work of your palm. Not that I know from experience or anything…

    • galleykitchengal July 10, 2012 at 9:06 am #

      Amen, my friend. I’ve never done anything like that either …


  1. “Midgie Kitchie”: Tips for Working in a Small Kitchen « galley kitchen gal - July 15, 2012

    […] attacking the mess as immediately as possible. (Well, not if your burners are hot. See: 2nd degree burns.) Here’s a Kitchn post with more great comments about cleaning as you […]

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