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Cooking Safety 101: How to best treat unexpected injuries in the kitchen

November 20, 2018,

Comfort often originates in the kitchen, whether the process of preparing food or the gathering of loved ones to share in its consumption. With the holiday season just around the corner, many of us will find ourselves spending a lot of time in the kitchen. However, cooking large family meals and holiday treats there is also the threat of experiencing discomfort — in the form of unexpected injuries.

The most likely kitchen injury culprits: cuts and burns

The most common injuries to come out of cooking are cuts and burns.  It goes without saying, but using extreme caution when cutting anything with a sharp knife is essential. If you do suffer a cut in the kitchen it will most likely be on your hand, and in particular the fingers.  There are two questions to ask in determining the severity when you cut yourself on your hand:

  1. How deep is the cut?
  2. What part of your hand did you injure?

The hand is an incredibly complex part of our body — it contains many tendons and muscles.  Cuts to the tips of the fingers are generally less serious, however cutting the sensitive palm or other areas of the finger could have lasting damage if not attended to by a professional.

Treatment for cuts:

If the cut is on the knuckle or tip of the finger, you may deem it not to be serious.  In this case, wash the cut with warm soap and water, while applying pressure to stop the bleeding. Once the bleeding has ceased, apply an antibacterial ointment and clean bandage.

If the cut is deep, bleeding profusely, won’t stop bleeding or in a sensitive area, cover the wound with a clean towel, apply pressure and seek immediate professional care.

Burns

The risk of a burn exist from more than the coils of the stovetop or oven, you may suffer a burn from the splatter of grease, boiling hot liquids or other substances.

Treatment for burns:

To treat a burn, you must first determine which type you have, although the best initial at-home treatment is running the injury under cold water.

  • First-degree burns affect only the top layer of the skin; they’re the least serious, however they are red and painful. When the burn is pressed upon, it will turn white. To treat this burn, please the area under cool running water for three minutes.  Apply an antibiotic ointment (never ice) to the burn and cover it with a bandage.
  • Second-degree burns are more serious – they often blister and swell in addition. It is advised to seek professional help to treat a second-degree burn, as infection is a concern.  Immediately, soak the burn in cool water for up to 30 minutes to alleviate pain.
  • Third-degree burns are considered medical emergencies. This type of burn will affect all the layers of the skin. Even more worrisome, third-degree burns may not initially hurt much, as the nerve endings have been damaged.  Cover the wound in a cool wet dressing and seek immediate medical attention.
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