Cooking is an enjoyable activity for seniors. However, it comes with the risk of fires, burns, scalds, and cuts. Luckily, there is a way to make cooking a safe and pleasant activity for seniors. In the U.S., cooking (as pleasant as it is) stands as the third leading cause of fire deaths among seniors.
Most seniors have balance and mobility issues while others suffer vision impairment. Due to that, they are not able to act fast when an accident occurs. In some cases, seniors also suffer dementia that makes it a challenge for them to avoid accidents and injuries in the kitchen.
However, older adults do not have to give up cooking. This is especially so given the advent of smart kitchen features such as smart cookers that have enhanced kitchen and cooking safety. Below are simple cooking safety measures that seniors can observe to stay safe in the kitchen.
Enhance Gas Stove Safety
It is easy to cook with a gas stove seeing that you can control the heat. However, these stoves pose a risk to seniors. Luckily, most accidents are preventable at home.
Start by having a carbon monoxide detector in the kitchen. Carbon monoxide is produced when natural gas burns in the absence of oxygen. The gas is colorless and odorless and hence not detectable by human senses. To ensure seniors are safe, the gas cooker needs to be inspected by a professional and it should not be used to heat a room as that increases the risk of producing carbon monoxide.
Second, ensure the kitchen is fire safe. Flames spread fast in the kitchen especially if a senior leaves frying pans unattended in the kitchen. You can start by buying a fire extinguisher and placing it at a location where it is easily accessible. Show the senior how to use the extinguisher. You can also install other fire safety features as you afford – there are different designs and manufactures to choose from.
Ensure that seniors do not wear loose clothes while cooking as they can easily catch fire. Advise the seniors that if their clothes catch fire, they should cover their faces with their hands, drop on the floor and roll back and forth to put off the fire. If you feel your senior parent is at risk of fire, you can buy them flame retardant clothing.
Lastly, ensure nothing flammable is near the stove and print the number of the fire department in large text on the door or entrance to the kitchen.
Keep Burns at Bay
Burns in the kitchen occur when seniors come into contact with open flames or hot surfaces while cooking. Always remind elders to wear protective mitts when handling pots and pans on the cooker or when reaching for anything in the oven. Handles of pans and pots should be turned inward to ensure that seniors do not bump in them.
Again, you should buy light and small pots so seniors can carry them with ease. Seniors should be advised not to carry pans or pots with hot liquids. If a burn occurs, the burned part should be held for 15-20 minutes under running water to reduce the consequences of a burn.
Install Automatic Stove Shut-Off Device and a Stove Lock for Dementia Patients
The first measure in making your senior parent’s kitchen safe is to install an automatic stove shut-off device. This device shuts off the stove after a period of inactivity. Most of these devices are fitted with motion sensors to detect when someone is in the kitchen. If the device cannot detect movement for a programmed period, it shuts off the gas stove. Some models are Wi-Fi enabled and can send alerts to your mobile phone. Better yet, you will also come across models with a gas detection feature that switches of the gas until a secret button is pressed.
Automatic stove locks are also ideal for seniors with dementia. These locks switch off the gas at night so seniors will not start cooking if they wake up at the wee hours of the night. Some of these lock features are Wi-Fi enabled and can be controlled from a mobile device.
Conclusion: Buy Food Gloves and Sharpen Knives
Your senior parent needs cut-resistant gloves in the kitchen to protect them from knives, peelers, and graters. These gloves are affordable and durable. If your senior parent has shaky hands, these gloves are a must-have. Again, ensure that your senior parent knives are always sharp seeing as sharp knives require less force. Ensure these knives are stores properly in a knife rack or a knife guard set.