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As the Great British Bake Off returns, it will spark a flurry of flour dust and beaten eggs in kitchens all over the UK and beyond. Home baking is great fun, but it is also important to be safe in the kitchen. There are many potential hazards to be aware of, so here are some useful tips for keeping safe.
Watch out for...
Baking usually requires you to use an oven and sometimes the hob. Be aware of the heat from the hob and the oven door if they have been in use.
Use oven gloves or cloths to remove hot pots from the hob or baking trays from the oven. If you need to lift something that might be hot, always use a dry oven glove – never use a wet cloth, because it will get hot more quickly.
Be careful of steam or hot air when you open the oven door.
Place hot food on a stable, heat resistant surface.
Electric appliances often have dangling wires – but these must be kept out of the way in a busy kitchen. Make sure that wires are never hanging over the worktop or obstructing a cabinet door.
Fire hazards include tea-towels (make sure they’re always hung up away from the oven), sockets (never touch them with wet hands; ideally, use socket covers whenever you don’t have something plugged in) and saucepans on the hob.
Make sure you know where the fire extinguisher or blanket is located, in case of a pan fire. If you don’t have one, a damp tea towel is a good alternative, but the recommendation is to get a fire blanket for your kitchen, as they never expire and last for years if unused.
Be incredibly careful with liquids, which boil at around 100°C. And don't forget, fat (butter and cooking oil) reaches much higher temperatures and sugar also gets very, very hot - around 160°C.
Exercise additional caution when transferring hot liquids and batters, especially when there are children and pets around.
If you spill ingredients on the floor, clean up immediately to avoid slipping. If you spill oils, use a grease-fighting dish liquid and warm water to mop the floor.
It’s a good idea to wear an apron and closed shoes when you are baking. This will keep your clothes clean and your feet safe from falling objects or spills. It’s also a good idea to keep your hair tied back away from your face to prevent it from falling into the food you are making.
Sharp implements and equipment
Baking often requires the use of knives, beaters, mixers and other implements and equipment which could be dangerous.
It should go without saying, but handle knives and other sharp utensils with care. When carrying a knife, keep it to your side with the point down and cutting edge away from you. Although the sharper the knife, the more dangerous it might seem, a dull knife needs more pressure applied to cut and so can be just as dangerous.
If you do cut yourself, clean the wound and apply a plaster before continuing to bake.
Never put your hand into a mixer or any other equipment that is turned on or moving. Make sure your hands are dry before touching electrical switches.
Store your baking ingredients and equipment in such a way that they are easy to reach and will not fall on you or anyone else. Keep ingredients covered, preferably in a sealed container, to keep them fresh and free from contamination.
Accidents do happen and its best to be prepared. The NHS website recommends the following action in the event of a burn.
Basic First Aid For Burns
Stop the burning process as soon as possible. This may mean removing the person from the area, dousing flames with water, or smothering flames with a blanket. Don't put yourself at risk of getting burnt as well.
Remove any clothing or jewellery near the burnt area of skin, including babies' nappies. However, don't try to remove anything that's stuck to the burnt skin as this could cause more damage.
Cool the burn with cool or lukewarm running water for 20 minutes, as soon as possible after the injury. Never use ice, iced water, or any creams or greasy substances such as butter.
Keep yourself or the person warm. Use a blanket or layers of clothing, but avoid putting them on the injured area. Keeping warm will prevent hypothermia, where a person's body temperature drops below 35°C. This is a risk if you are cooling a large burnt area, particularly in young children and elderly people.
Cover the burn with cling film. Put the cling film in a layer over the burn, rather than wrapping it around a limb. A clean clear plastic bag can be used for burns on your hand.
Treat the pain from a minor burn with over the counter medicines. Always check the manufacturer's instructions when using over-the-counter medication.
Sit upright as much as possible if the face or eyes are burnt. Avoid lying down for as long as possible as this will help to reduce swelling.
With all those points taken into consideration, enjoy the new season of GBBO and happy baking!