A new school year means a new crop of kids living an important – and nerve-racking – rite of passage: Staying home alone for the first time after school. If your child is among them, our claims experts suggest you add one more topic to your safety talk.
Not only is it the one place your child is guaranteed to spend time, it ranks as the second most dangerous room in the house (right after bathrooms, notorious for slip-and-falls). For kids, the danger comes from a combination of curiosity and inexperience in trying to concoct afterschool snacks.
Make sure your child understands to never ...
Climb shelves or counters to reach things. Ditto for standing on chairs or tippy stools. For Mom and Dad, that might mean rearranging the pantry to make sure kid-friendly food like cereal and crackers are kept within safe, easy reach.
Walk away with something on the burner (assuming they're allowed to use the stove). Forgetting something on the stove is the No. 1 cause of kitchen fires. Also, make sure pot handles are always pointed inward so they can't be bumped and send hot liquid flying.
Throw water on a grease fire. Instead, smother the flames by covering it with a pot lid or sliding a cookie sheet over it. Or use a fire extinguisher.
Lay a towel on the stove. It could catch fire from a hot burner.
Try to catch a dropped knife. Step back and let it fall. Better to poke a hole in the hardwood floor than your hand or foot!
Hold food in your hand while you're cutting. Use a cutting board, and place the food flat-side down (or make a cut to create a flat side) to improve stability. Always use a clean cutting board.
Put anything metallic in the microwave (unless it's a frozen food crisper sleeve that's designed to go in). If something causes arcs or sparks, turn off the microwave immediately.