Eye Safety in the Kitchen
Did you know that there are 2.4 million eye injuries each year? Did you know that almost 25% of those happen in the kitchen? Since most of us spend at least some time in the kitchen, it is a good idea to think about eye safety in the kitchen. So, if you like to cook, or simply cook out of necessity, here are some things you need to know about cooking and eye safety.
Hot Grease is a Major Ow!
Many people have felt the burn of splattering hot grease on their arm while frying up bacon. Imagine the same searing pain in your eye! The truth is that hot grease splatters into the eye are common. Since prevention is key, wearing safety goggles is the best way to keep hot grease out of your eye. However, most people would prefer not to wear goggles while cooking. Consider using a lid or splatter shield on any pan where there’s hot grease.
If hot grease does get into your eye, here is what you should do:
- Flush your eye with cold water for at least two minutes to remove grease and other substances.
- See an eye doctor if you have a lot of pain.
- Use artificial tears to make the eye more comfortable. However, do not use anti-redness drops. These drops are more likely to cause infection in a healing eye.
Other Liquid Splashes Can Also Burn
Although grease in the eye is a problem, other splashed liquids also affect the eye. Whether hot or cold, foreign liquids in the eye are uncomfortable. Hot liquids can also create burns and blisters.
If a liquid splashes in your eye, do the following:
- Use water to flush the eye thoroughly. If the liquid was acidic, your eye may burn and be watery. The more water you use to flush the eye, the better your eye will feel. Water will also eliminate any liquids prone to carrying infection, such as raw chicken juice.
- Contact your doctor if the pain persists, or you see an eye injury.
Your Eyes Are a Hot-Pepper-Free Zone
Hot peppers and spices add great variety to your cooking. However, hot peppers, spices and eyes don’t mix.
When you use these ingredients, they can linger on your hands. Then, when you rub your eyes, even a tiny speck of the the ingredient can get in causing pain, redness, and watery eyes. Some of the most potent spicy foods include:
- Peppers - especially the hot varieties which contain the chemical capsaicin - this is used to make pepper spray
- Hot sauce
To prevent this from happening, wear gloves when using hot or spicy ingredients. Also, wash your hands with soap and water after preparing food. Don’t forget to thoroughly clean your cutting board, too. If you don’t, the oils can transfer to your fingers the next time you use the board. Finally, do not rub your eyes while cooking.
If you get spicy oils into your eye, do the following:
- Rinse the eye thoroughly with water.
- If this does not stop the burning, wash the area around your eye, as well as your eyelid, with a mild shampoo like baby shampoo. Even if the shampoo says it is safe for eyes, do not put the soap directly into your eye.
Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly before touching your contacts. If you get spicy oils on your contacts, throw them away and put in a fresh pair.
Watch Out for Cleaning Chemicals, Too
Cleaning products are a hazard to your eyes. Even if you prefer to cook without wearing goggles, you should always wear goggles when using cleaning products in the kitchen. Many cleaning chemicals can cause eye injuries that may result in blindness. These include chemicals like those found in oven cleaners and bleach products.
If you get cleaning chemicals in your eyes:
- Seek help immediately
- While waiting for help, run clean water over the eye
Do not delay getting emergency medical treatment. Long exposures to these chemicals can cause severe injuries.
Stay Safe with Knives and Other Sharp Instruments
The kitchen is full of sharp objects. Consider the following list:
- And more
Be extremely careful when using sharp objects. Never point the sharp end of a kitchen tool toward your face. Instead, point it toward the counter or cutting board. Be especially careful when using sharp kitchen tools with children. Accidents with sharp objects are a common cause of eye injuries in children.
If you get something sharp in your eye, call a medical professional right away.
Prevent Trips and Falls in the Kitchen
Falling down is the biggest cause of eye injuries in the United States. When cooking, beware of:
- Open cabinets and drawers
- Slippery spills on the floor
- Loose rugs
- Objects in your path such as chairs or step stools
Look around your kitchen before you start to cook to see if there are any obstacles in your way. Also, remember to close cabinets and drawers after each use. That includes the dishwasher.
Food Myths Can Harm Your Eyes
Believe it or not, some people intentionally put food into their eyes. There are many myths about foods and how they cure eye problems or even change your eye color. Here are some myths to avoid:
- Honey - This does not change the color of your eye
- Tea - This will not cure pink eye.
- Raw Steak - This will not reduce swelling from a blow to the eye. Instead, you are likely to get an infection from the raw meat. Use an ice pack to tone down the swelling.
The best advice is to keep things out of your eyes unless they are made specifically for the eyes.
Tips to Prevent Eye Injuries While CookingUse Safety Glasses
Safety glasses are not fashionable. But, they will keep your eyes safe when using kitchen chemicals, sharp tools, and in the presence of hot or greasy liquids. The best safety glass products are those with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) seal of approval.Wash Your Hands
Washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water throughout the cooking process will help keep irritants out of your eyes. Don’t forget to always wash your hands before removing your contact lenses.Understand Eye First Aid
Even when you do everything you should, eye accidents can happen. Knowing how to react can help limit permanent eye damage. This could be flushing the eyes out with water or promptly seeking medical attention. Each circumstance is different, so make sure you have a plan before you need one.
Following these eye safety tips in the kitchen, will help prevent eye injuries. In the event of an accident, though, always, seek medical help to avoid long-term damage.