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NJ Senior Safety

The kitchen can be a dangerous place for an elderly, frail person if certain steps are not followed.  Here are some things to remember:

  • Keep towels, curtains, and other things that might catch fire located away from the range and oven. If necessary, shorten or remove curtains which could brush against heat sources.
  • Make sure your elderly loved one wears clothing with short-fitting sleeves while cooking.   Seventy percent of all people who die from clothing fires are over 65 years of age. Long sleeves are more likely to catch fire than short sleeves. Long sleeves are also more apt to catch on pot handles, overturning pots and pans and causing scalds.  If one needs to wear long, loose sleeves, fasten them with pins or elastic bands while cooking.
  • Kitchen ventilation systems and range exhausts should be checked to make sure they are in use while cooking. Indoor air pollutants may accumulate to unhealthful levels in a kitchen where gas or kerosene-fire appliances are in use. Open windows to clear air of vapors and smoke when cooking.
  • Extension cords and appliance should be kept away from the sink and range areas. Appliances should be as close to wall outlets as possible so extension cords won’t be needed.  If extension cords must be used, install wiring guides so that cords will not hang near sink, range, or working areas.  Don’t hesitate to add new outlets for convenience and safety with ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) to protect against electric shock.
  • There should be good, even lighting over the stove, sink, and countertop work areas, particularly where food is sliced or cut.  Low lighting and glare can contribute to burns or cuts. Lighting can easily be improved by opening curtains and blinds (unless this causes too much glare), using the maximum wattage bulb allowed by the fixture; reducing glare with frosted bulbs; using indirect lighting, shades or globes on light fixtures; or partially closing the blinds or curtains.
  • The kitchen should have a stable step stool with a handrail.  Standing on a chair is a bad idea.  Screws and braces should be tightened and a broken step stool should never be used.
  • Always check for outdated foods in the refrigerator, freezer and pantry.  Outdated foods can cause food poisoning and sometimes even requiring hospitalization in the elderly.

Posted by: Frank Esposito, Vice President of Expert Home Care.  New Jersey’s Expert Home Care provides professional and reliable home health care and companion care for NJ seniors, helping them with their daily living activities since 1984. Please call us toll free at 800-848-2336 when you have elder care related questions or need assistance for a loved one.

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