Synopsis: Household/Kitchen safety as a prep concept.
Ya’ Just Don’t Fry Bacon Nekkid.
by Wyzyrd – Editor-At-Large
The SCP Proverb, “A prudent person foresees the danger ahead and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.” is a favorite quote. An old redneck friend once summed it up even more succinctly. “Ya’ just don’t fry bacon nekkid, son..” If you know something has implicit hazards, do your best to minimize them.
As generally-older folks who have been around, we mostly have the most dangerous room in the house, the bathroom, taken care of. Non-skid bathmats, maybe even grab-rails, etc.
The second most-dangerous place in your house (unless you raise Bengal tigers or cobras in your spare bedroom or something) is your kitchen. You can get hurt there, every day, and it often gets ignored. You won’t be out heroically defeating the “Mutant Zombie Biker Horde” if you spill your morning coffee, slip on the wet spot and crack open your skull on the countertop. I have been working PT as a fill-in chef for a friend’s restaurant/catering service for a while, and accidents happen just about every daggone week. These folks are Pro’s. It can happen to anyone.
There are basically 3 big dangers in your kitchen ( ignoring bacteria, etc. The ones that hurt you fast and make you say ‘oops’ or something more profane.) .
Question #1: Do you have an in-date Class A/B/C (multiple fuel type) fire extinguisher IN your kitchen?
Not upstairs, not in the car, not outside by the grill, not ‘someplace’, right there in the kitchen and close at hand. If not, stop reading this right now, and go obtain one. To quote an online mentor, Mr. Alton Brown, “There is only one uni-tasker in my kitchen – the fire extinguisher.”
Question #2: Do you have a good first aid kit IN your kitchen? Not just a box of bandaids. Not 2 or 3 rooms away. Something you can open quickly with 1 hand and reach bandaids, gauze, antiseptics, VetWrap, or something similar, a blood coagulant like Celox (recommended) or QuikClot and latex or nitrile gloves. If not, stop reading this right now, and go obtain one. I have a couple 9-fingered professional line-cook friends, and they do kitchen work 10-15 hours a day, and should have known better. You don’t want to ignore a ‘minor’ injury, just because you may be in a macho mood, that particular day.
Question #3: Are all your kitchen knives sharp? Yes, the ‘cool’ ones in your BOB and outdoor gear may well be sharper than a barber’s straight razor. How about in your everyday kitchen? Sharp knives are unlikely to bite you. They go exactly where you point them, usually, unless you get careless. Dull ones will skip across that zucchini when you lean on it with all your weight and slice open your hand or arm. Most kitchen knives in America probably haven’t been sharpened since Richard Milhouse Nixon was President. Take your stones and ceramic sticks to the ones you can sharpen. Toss and replace the really bad ones (or use ’em in improvised traps, or something). Make sure you have good stones (coarse carborundum to Arkansas stone) , a couple quick tungsten carbide “V” sharpeners , a good steel and some ceramic ‘crocksticks’ in your kit. Learn to sharpen your knives. Less about cutting a ‘zombie’ than not cutting yourself by accident.
Question #4: Is your kitchen floor as clean, flat, waxed and shiny as the Rockefeller Center icerink?
Clean and sealed is always good, that’s not the issue. But, if you work an hour or so, your back WILL hurt, and if you spill a half teaspoon of water or oil, you’re probably going to slip, and at best, fall on your butt. Commercial restaurant kitchens require either sealed “textured gel mats” (at about $300 a pop) or open “non-skid anti-fatigue mats” that are cheaper, but have to be steam-cleaned weekly. Foam “garage diamond plate” non-skid mats work great, until you spill hot grease on them, then they become ‘uncleanable teflon oil sponges’, no matter how much you try to seal them. (I tried) Go to your local megamart, get a few sealed, squishy gel 2’x3′ kitchen mats with a rough surface. They’re about 3-4 bucks apiece. You can clean them regularly, you won’t slip and your back won’t hurt, even before holidays, when you’re going crazy doing 20 things at the same time and standing in the same place for hours. Put one in front of your sink, one in front of your stove, and one in front of your prep area. Your back and legs will thank you, and you’re unlikely to slip and take a trip to the ER. If they get too funky every couple years (my cat thinks they are great scratching posts and shreds ’em), pitch them and replace – not a big investment for your personal safety.
Question #5: Do you cook with big stockpots or a lot of cast iron cookware?
Please consider getting a long kitchen apron and some (comfortable) steel-toed shoes (add a gel-insole and an odor-eater, and you’ll feel like you’re walking on soft grass). Those pots are heavy, clumsy, hot and heavy (even though great tools). There is a decent chance that you (or somebody else) will drop or knock one off the stove someday, and your toes and legs will suffer. Think of it as low-tech body armor. You’ll still swear like a 17th Century sailor, but you may not need an ambulance.
If you made it this far:
Next time you’re at the grocery store, pick up a few packs of ‘disposable’ aluminum foil “oven rack liners”. A little ‘bending’ allows 2 of these to fit the racks (and bottom shelf) in your fridge. Sit anything that might leak on a foil pan. It’s easier to clean up the foil pan than wonder if the raw chicken dripped all over the lettuce. Gotta eventually remember the bacteria. Just sayin’ :)
Sharing homemade food with family and friends is a pleasure, and a way to bring us all together. Just a few suggestions for keeping yourself safe while doing it.
“We’re all in this together”
– Red Green
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