The top 11 kitchen tips that could save your life
Prepare for a fire
Mount an A-B-C, dry-chemical fire extinguisher at eye level near the exit of your kitchen. Review the usage instructions frequently, so you'll know how to use it should the need arise. You can dump baking soda on very small kitchen fires, as long as the stuff is clearly labeled--you don't want to use flour by mistake, since it's flammable. And remember to never pour water on grease fires; it's likely to splatter the grease and spread the flames. Keep a smoke detector nearby, too--but not a carbon monoxide detector. Carbon monoxide detectors are affected by excessive humidity, and by close proximity to gas stoves, so they should be located way from kitchens (and bathrooms).
Vent a gas stove
Some cooks claim nothing beats making a meal on a natural gas stovetop. That may be true, but cooking with natural gas can also release high levels of nitrogen dioxide into your home--some studies have shown the kitchen is the place where humans are most often exposed to this type of pollution. If you're in the market for a gas stove, look for a model equipped with pilotless ignition--no need to have a pilot light constantly burning.
It's also important that your stove have an exhaust fan that ventilates to the outside. If the tip of the flame is yellow instead of blue, your stove needs adjusting by your gas company. And if you haven't already done so, ask the company that installed your stove to check the kitchen air supply, to make sure pollutants aren't being drawn back into your house. If you don't hire a certified technician to install your fan, at least consult with one to make sure your air supply is OK.
We all like to keep our kitchens sparkling, and the good news is, the safest homemade cleaning products also tend to be the cheapest! Forego harsh cleaners that claim to be antimicrobial/antibacterial or disinfectant. They often contain chemicals that can irritate your lungs, eyes, and skin, and some have been found to contain carcinogens.
Instead, mix 1 part white vinegar and 9 parts water as a general cleaning solution that will wipe out nearly all germs. For a glass cleaner, mix 1 part white vinegar with 1 part water, and spray. And for cleanup after preparing meat, use hot, soapy water first (we prefer unscented castile soap), and then follow with the vinegar solution. For washing dishes, avoid detergents whose labels read like chemistry books and look for plant-based cleaners with no artificial fragrances.
Remodel with real wood
Cabinets and other kitchen furniture made out of pressed wood often are glued together with products that contain formaldehyde, a known carcinogen. If you're remodeling, avoid products that contain particleboard, and ask for plywood that doesn't contain formaldehyde.
The chemicals are released into the air over time, making buying older kitchen chairs from a flea market or antique shop a good bargain for your health as well as your wallet.
Phase out plastic containers
More and more studies are connecting certain plastics to health problems, with No. 3 (PVC) and No. 7 plastics that contain bisphenol A (BPA) raising the most warning flags. BPA is also found in many plastic takeout containers and canned food liners.
No. 6 plastics (polystyrene, also known as Styrofoam) also leach chemicals into food and drink. While Nos. 1, 2, 4, and 5 plastics are considered safer options, we suggest storing your food in glass containers, and choosing a stainless steel reusable water bottle for bringing beverages on the go.
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