Cooking is a lifelong skill that can be enjoyable and therapeutic as well as being an important foundation for a healthy lifestyle. There are many reasons why everyone should learn to cook, not least because it promotes independence and a better understanding of the food that we eat. As a result there are an increasing number of cooking camps for kids in Singapore, where kids can learn about food from around the world and broaden their palates at the same time as their minds.
However, we all know that kitchens are potentially hazardous places if kids are left unattended and don’t have a good level of safety awareness. Risks can include injury from knives and other kitchen equipment, scalding from hot water or burns from ovens or hot items. So one of the most important lessons for kids is how to safely navigate through the enjoyable process of cooking.
In order to make sure that both kids and parents get the most pleasure from cooking while staying safe, here are our top 10 tips on safe cooking for kids:
1. Always check with an adult
Top of the list of kitchen rules for kids is that they should always check with an adult before doing any food preparation in the kitchen. Firstly, is it OK to be in the kitchen to do some cooking? Secondly, is it OK to carry out a particular activity? For kids below the age of 12 it’s always advisable to have an adult supervise any kitchen activities, especially those that involve chopping or cooking.
2. Practice good hygiene
Good hygiene is an extremely important thing for kids to learn in general, but especially relevant when preparing food for themselves or others. Kids should be reminded to thoroughly wash their hands with soap before and after any food preparation. It’s also essential to make sure that all surfaces are sterilised with an antibacterial spray and utensils are cleaned before use.
3. Avoid cross contamination
Anyone who’s ever had food poisoning will know how unpleasant and dangerous it can be. Cooking destroys bacteria that can cause food poisoning which is why it’s important to ensure that meat products, in particular, are thoroughly cooked. It’s also an important reason why uncooked meat should never be prepared on the same surface as raw foods, to avoid transferring bacteria to them.
4. Be aware of kitchen dangers
Some of the greatest kitchen hazards include fire and heat. Pots should always have their handles faced inwards to avoid kids knocking them from the hob. Steam and hot oil are particular hazards as they can cause scalding and scarring so any cooking on a hob should be closely supervised. Adults should help move hot pans from one place to another.
5. Wear appropriate clothing
Knowing the dangers of burns that can arise from holding hot objects, kitchen gloves should always be worn if attempting to lift anything hot. It’s also always worthwhile wearing an apron to protect bodies and clothes.
6. Use knives carefully
Chopping is an important part of food preparation but inexperienced chefs can easily cut themselves. For this reason kids should be supervised and taught how to chop foods with their ‘holding’ hand safely away from the blade.
7. Ask for help
It’s really important that kids know that they can ask for help if they don’t understand something. Attempting cooking tasks without knowing how to do them can open up lots of unwanted risks.
8. Wipe up spills and mess
Another key kitchen rule is to wipe up spills and mess as soon as they happen. Cleaning up mess helps to ensure clean surfaces while mopping up spills helps avoid injuries from slipping.
9. Storing food
Bacteria thrive in warm conditions so it’s important to store cooked food in a refrigerator until it’s eaten. However, one kids’ kitchen safety tip which is useful for everyone is to wait until food is cool before putting it in the fridge. That’s because putting warm food in the fridge makes everything else in the fridge warmer and increases the risk of spoilage.
10. Basic first aid
Every kitchen should have a first aid kit and, just as importantly, everyone should know where to find it. So whether you need a plaster for a cut or some antiseptic cream, make sure that kids know where that first aid kit is stored.
There are many reasons to send your child to cookery school, but it’s worth making sure that you choose a reputable camp that has safety as it’s top priority. Good cooking camps for kids will have clear guidelines on safety, and will ensure that kids are supervised at all times. And, as an important bonus, they will still make sure that kids have fun and go home at the end of each day feeling satisfied and enriched.