Kitchens are where we come together as families to cook, bake, share meals and bond. But there are also some dangerous elements, from sharp knives to boiling water, making unexpected accidents in the kitchen fairly common.
“We want your kitchen to be a safe, joyful sanctuary and hope you never experience an accident; Nevertheless, we also want you to know that if an accident does happen, we’re here for you at our full-service emergency rooms so you can get back home to create your favorite dishes,” says Javier Gonzalez, MD, FACEP, DABT, an emergency physician, clinical toxicologist and medical director with AdventHealth Zephyrhills and AdventHealth Dade City.
Dr. Gonzalez is here to cover five common kitchen injuries, how they occur and when to go to the ER.
Burns are common injuries in the kitchen as you move food in and out of ovens, navigate pots and pans on hot stoves and dodge sizzling oil and boiling water. Did the oven mitt slip as you removed a casserole from a hot oven? Did you forget the handle on your cast iron skillet was still scalding as you absentmindedly picked it up? These are understandable but painful accidents that can happen to the best of us.
“To treat a burn at home, first cool the injury site as quickly as possible,” instructs Dr. Gonzalez, “use cold water and react quickly to treat it to avoid the injury getting worse.”
Go directly to the ER if your burn:
- Has significant blistering
- Is bigger than the palm of your hand
- Is causing severe pain
- Is deep but doesn’t hurt to the touch, which could mean the nerves are burned
- Worsens over the next several hours
2. Cuts and Scrapes
Kitchen cuts and scrapes frequently happen if your knife slips while chopping or slicing or a finger gets in the way while using a grater or zester. Dr. Gonzalez says, “while they’re convenient, cooking mandolins used to quickly slice vegetables can be dangerous and are the culprit of many kitchen accidents, including lacerations.” Use all your sharp kitchen equipment with care.
If there is bleeding, put pressure on the wound right away. Go to the ER if:
- A bandage doesn’t cover the area
- The bleeding doesn’t stop
- The injury is over a joint or impairing your ability to move
- Underlying tissue is exposed from the cut
3. Eye Issues
Cleaning solutions, citrus juice and hot peppers sometimes make unwanted contact with your eyes, which can be very painful. “First, rinse the affected area with lukewarm water,” says Dr. Gonzalez, “milk might work better at neutralizing if the irritant is something like a hot pepper.”
Go to the ER if your symptoms are severe, including when:
- Your eyes are very irritated or swollen
- Your eyes are red or in pain
- Your vision is impacted
- The issue worsens over time
“Falls in the kitchen can happen from slipping on spilled liquids, using step ladders to reach for something high or simply losing your balance while you’re concentrating on the task at hand,” cautions Dr. Gonzalez.
Hopefully, you will catch yourself quickly enough to avoid a serious injury, but have someone get you to the ER immediately if you:
- Can’t bear weight on the injury
- Have excessive swelling or obvious deformity
- Hit your head
- Lose consciousness
5. Smoke Inhalation
You might end up inhaling harmful fumes if you used strong chemicals for cleaning or something that caught on fire. Dr. Gonzalez warns, “inhalation concerns happen more for people who have an airway condition such as asthma or COPD.” Treat it at home first with any airway medications you have. Head to the ER if you experience these symptoms:
- Excessive coughing
- Shortness of breath
- Symptoms that worsen or don’t get better within a few hours
Around-the-Clock Emergency Room Care
When you need us most, our emergency room teams are ready to react with urgency, treat with expertise and comfort with compassion. From comprehensive ER services to pediatric urgent care centers, responsive and immediate emergency medical treatment is within reach.
While we hope you stay safe in your kitchen and wherever you may be, if an accident does happen, we’re here for you 24/7. Trust our teams to get you back to wholeness in body, mind, and spirit. Visit us here to find an ER location close to you.