Using knives safely can be taught and learned if you are attentive

Learning to chop, dice and slice in the kitchen involves using a variety of knives. Kitchen safety with knives is universal and can be taught by listening, learning and paying attention to what you are doing.

It's important to eliminate other distractions when using a kitchen knife.

It's important to eliminate other distractions when using a kitchen knife.

Using knives safely in the kitchen can be taught by paying attention, learning and modeling behaviors of experienced cooks and chefs. The first thing that must be noted is that safety in the kitchen starts with proper hand washing. Washing your hands thoroughly with warm, soapy water for 20 seconds must be done routinely and constantly to fight bacteria and germs that can make us sick.

Cutting in the kitchen can be done a couple of ways:

  • Counter cutting: Sanitizing a kitchen counter followed by rinsing the counter after sanitizing will allow you to cut foods directly on the counter.
  • Preferred method: Using a cutting board. Remember you must clean the cutting board after each use; specifically if you are going to cut meat as well as fruit, vegetables or other food items.
  • After using a cutting board to cut meat, you must clean, sanitize, rinse and air dry your cutting board before cutting any other foods with the same board.
  • It is equally as imperative that you sanitize and rinse cutting tools after cutting meats if you are going to cut other food items.

Michigan State University Extension promotes the following kitchen knife safety:

  • Always keep knives safely out of reach from children.
  • Keep knives out of reach from those with challenges and that could be harmed.
  • Keep knives sharpened. Remember that all knives can cut you but trying to cut with a dull knife is a safety hazard.
  • Always hold blades down when walking with knives.
  • Stand a safe distance from the cutting area in case the knife slips. That way, there’s less of a chance of injury to the stomach area.
  • When dicing, mincing or chopping foods, keep the tip of the knife on the cutting surface as you lift and chop.
  • Don’t lick foods from knife blades. Not only is this a cutting safety issues, it’s also a food safety issue; a double whammy of an accident waiting to happen.
  • Curl your fingers in when cutting foods. Do not leave fingers laid out flat – that’s a good way to loose fingers.

Always pay attention to what you are doing when using knives in the kitchen. Watching television or having a conversation with someone does not mix well with cutting, chopping, slicing or dicing.

Knives are nothing to play with! Finally, if you do get cut, rinse the area off and cover with an antibiotic and bandage. If the cut bleeds profusely, seek immediate medical attention.

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