Cooking dinner with the family is a pleasurable pastime with the perfect end product, delicious food! But if you don’t take the necessary precautions to keep your hands safe, your favorite pastime could quickly turn south and end with a visit to the hospital. Thanksgiving, especially, can be a stressful time in the kitchen, and many overwhelmed cooks can make mistakes that are harmful to their hands. In order to keep yourself safe and prevent hand injuries from occurring while cooking, the Hand Surgery Specialists of Texas compiled a list of tips for safe cooking practices.
1. Use the right tools.
Choose easy-to-grip versions of kitchen tools like spoons, knives, and bottle or can openers to decrease the stress on your hands. Look for tools that have oversize handles, instead of traditional narrow or standard handles. This will allow you to get the job done without requiring a tight grip. Using scissors to open bags instead of your thumbs can also help prevent stress-related injuries.
2. Sit or stand up straight.
Correct posture is important because the nerves that operate your fingers start in your neck. Slouching puts pressure on the neck and shoulders, which can hinder motion in your arms and hands or cause pain. During activities which require you to be looking down at what you are doing, like chopping vegetables, take a moment to stand up straight, turn your head side-to-side, up and down, and stretch your arms over your head.
3. Slide, do not lift.
Do not lift heavy pots and pans. Rather, slide them off burners and onto trivets. When grabbing something from the oven, always slide the shelf out so you can get a good, safe grasp of the panhandles. If the pot is too heavy, ask for help to take it out of the oven.
4. Use mitt-style potholders.
The mitt-style potholder is safer than the alternative simple flat design. Mitt styles protect both the top and bottom of your hands and let you concentrate on picking up the hot dish, rather than trying to keep a flat potholder from sliding.
5. Use precaution opening jars and tops.
Unscrewing a tight jar lid can be tough on your finger and wrist joints. Before you open any jar or bottle, turn it upside down and tap the bottom of the jar lightly against the bottom of the countertop a few times. Listen for the jar to pop, which makes the jar easier to open because the suction has been broken. If the jar was previously opened, but you’re finding difficulty opening it again, run the lid under warm water, then use a rubber jar opener to open the top. We also recommend using an electric can opener whenever possible as opening jars can be particularly difficult for those with joint pain or arthritis.
These tips may require more time, but always choose safety over speed in the kitchen. But if hand injuries accidentally occur and they’re not emergency-related, you should see a hand specialist. Schedule an appointment with the Hand Surgery Specialists of Texas today!