A Home Inspector’s Weblog by Frank Schulte-Ladbeck

exploring homes and the lives in them around Houston

The Obstacle Course in my Kitchen

It is so easy to do a task without thinking. This morning I go to the kitchen to prepare lunches for my wife, son, and daughter. I found myself stretching over to reach the counter as I carried out my task. Stretching over? I stopped to finally consider my predicament. My one year old daughter had moved every stool and chair that was easily transported.

She has decided to help me cook. She has also considered the fact that she cannot reach every available counter space, hence the chairs. I like having my kids in the kitchen to cook with me. When my son was young, he could tell his mother or anyone else where every thing was in the kitchen. Later when he was taking a test for the Vanguard program in the school, the teacher came out to comment that he knows a lot about cooking. The Vanguard program is for the advanced students in the Houston area, and it starts with kindergarten.

There are pitfalls to having them help with the meal. One example is when I was cutting an onion the other day. The onion was making my eyes water, and my daughter wanted to grab the onion pieces as I was cutting them, so she could throw them into the frying pan. As I was crying, I kept saying please Katya stop. She picked up on the please. The first time that she used the word please was right then and there. She said please over and over again as she was reaching for the diced onion. I was laughing and crying at the same time. I moved the board out of her reach, which inspired her to look for the other chairs, so I could not get away to fast. When my son was older, I taught him how to hold a knife. One hand rigidly flat over the spine to keep fingers away from the blade, with the other hand firmly on the grip.

The main thing to consider with children in the kitchen is their curiosity will lead them into unsafe places. I do not keep any knife in my drawers, except for the butter knives. I have them on a magnetic strip on the wall. This prevents the blade from being damaged as well as keeping them out of reach from the kids. With my daughter poking her head out of the kitchen cabinets, I am reminded of the wires and cabling that are in those spaces. Make sure that they are secure, and that you have no open junction boxes for little ones to poke their fingers into. Keep handles from skillets and pots turned inwards, so they will not be pulled down by a reaching hand.

One of the best locks for a cabinet that I have seen of late involves a clasp on the interior. Ties around door knobs do not work, and some other means take away from the appearance of the cabinetry. These clasp locks only allow the door to open so far. You then have to push on the lever part to release the door. It goes in place of the magnetic clasp to keep the door shut.

Take a look around your kitchen and you will find small things that cause harm, but they are easily resolved. As for hot frying pans, I just taught both of my children that they should not touch, because of the heat. Both quickly learned. As for the onions, my daughter proudly showed her mother the meal that she had prepared, when my wife came home.

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