Getting Started Blind in the Kitchen – Safety
This is the first article in a three part series on getting started in the kitchen with blindness. There are three key areas to think about in adapting your kitchen to be accessible for the blind: tools and adaptations, safety, and organization.
This is not a comprehensive list of safety in the kitchen. You are probably already familiar with general safety for the kitchen, and you can always research more information about general food safety. Here I am just sharing some tips that have been helpful to me particular to being blind.
Full Coverage Heat Mitts
Find yourself a good pair of oven mitts that cover your whole hand and possibly go up to your elbow. With oven heat pads it is difficult to watch out for the back of your hand and easy to have a finger fall short of the pad. Personally I like the oven mitts I found that are more like gloves and cover each finger individually. They really make it easy to feel and grip whatever I’m grabbing.
Liquid level Indicator
Take care when pouring hot liquids, get one of these handy liquid level indicators. You stick it on the side of your cup, pour in the liquid and it will start buzzing when the liquid is close to full. This way you won’t be tempted to use your finger and risk being burnt.
Wear Shoes in the Kitchen
Always wear close toed shoes while in the kitchen. I learned this in my food safety class. You never know when you may drop something sharp, hard, or breakable and your toes will thank you if you have shoes on when it does. I keep a pair of shoes at the entrance of my kitchen that are easy to slip on.
Another side point, in my food safety class they also taught me to remember not to try to catch falling things. There is more hazard in instinctively grabbing for a falling knife or plastic wrap box than just letting it drop. You are more likely to cut your hand trying to grab it. Also, I keep a broom and dust pan in arms reach of the kitchen in case of broken glass.
Don’t wear loose fitting clothing
Baggy, loose hanging clothes can easy end up dragging into food or get caught and knock things over. Worse yet, it could catch fire. For these same reasons, be sure to keep long hair pulled back.
Keep knives and other sharp tools covered
A butchers block keeps knives organized and safely tucked away. If you store knives or other sharp tools in drawers, be sure to keep them in a sheath or other covering. Being organized and having a designated spot for sharp items also helps. Wash sharp tools immediately after use and put them away. This way you won’t forget about them and find them hidden in a pile of dishes.
Do Not leave anything on the Stove
It is tempting in small kitchens to use the stove top as extra counter space. Make it a habit not to do this. It is easy to forget something left on the stove or to turn on the wrong burner. Sadly, yes, I’m talking from personal experience; I use to keep my electric tea kettle on the stove. One day I turned on the wrong burner and realized it when I smelt burning plastic.
These are just a few basic, general ideas for staying safe in the kitchen. I encourage you to read more about food safety and preventing food born illness. Please check out my other articles on kitchen organization and adapting equipment for more ideas of how to safely adapt your kitchen for cooking blind.