The holidays are in full swing! For many of us, that means a lot more time spent in the kitchen preparing meals for visiting family and friends.
It's true we all love those sweet and savory aromas that float throughout your kitchen and home, but did you know there are also some not-so-nice airborne contaminants that are released into the air when you cook? Worse yet, with all that food comes the potential for pests (and pest allergens).
Without getting too scary with the details - this is the holiday for sharing and caring - it's important to keep your kitchen healthy, and that means more than just stocking the fridge with fruits and veggies.
Tip #1: Cook with an exhaust hood on and vented outdoors
When you cook, you generate particles that can be distributed all throughout your home. Cooking with a gas stove, for instance, can generate NO2. But when you use an exhaust hood that's properly ventilated to the outdoors, it can dramatically decrease the amount of cooking-related pollutants in your home.
Pro-tip: A venting skylight in the kitchen can also help rid cooking-related pollutants from your kitchen!
Tip #2: Keep a fire extinguisher nearby
A nearby fire extinguisher can be the difference between a slightly scalded kitchen ceiling and a burnt down house. When used appropriately, fire extinguishers quickly put out small fires in the home. Remember to use it, just PASS:
- P: Pull out the pin
- A: Aim at the base of the fire
- S: Squeeze the handle
- S: Sweep across the fire
Do not let go until the extinguisher is emptied. If the fire is not out after that, evacuate immediately. Make sure your entire family knows where the fire extinguisher is and how to use it.
Pro-tip: It may be tempting, but remember never to throw water on a grease fire. If it's small, cover it completely with a lid or damp towel. If that doesn't work, a Class B Dry Chemical Fire Extinguisher is your best defense.
Tip #3: Filter drinking water as needed
While tap water delivered to your home has to meet national drinking water standards, there are some things to consider before drinking straight from the tap. Drinking water standards do not cover everything once the water enters your house pipes. For example, homes with leaded pipes or solder can leach lead into your water. Consider installing a whole-house water filter system or using a small water filter at the faucet. If you have a well, the water should be tested regularly.
Pro-tip: Reduce plastic use with a reusable water bottle! Help save the planet and save money at the same time.
Tip #4: Control pests with IPM, not pesticides
No matter how clean your home is, pests can be an inevitability. To minimize the use of toxic pesticide chemicals in your cooking area, utilize Integrated Pest Management. IPM emphasizes tiered strategies to prevent pests:
- Remove clutter, trash, standing water, open food, and dirty dishes
- Properly identify and monitor pests
- Control pest problems using physical traps and natural pest enemies
- Use targeted pesticides as a last resort
Tip #5: Opt for glassware, cast iron, or ceramic cookware
Plastic can make life easy in a lot of ways, but it's best left out when it comes to cooking. While they can make things convenient, the chemicals that make plastic cooking utensils easy-to-clean or non-stick also make them harmful for your health. Even kitchenware labeled "free of toxic chemicals" can have equally concerning replacements that leach into food. For a chemically healthier diet, opt for glassware over plastic and cast iron or ceramic cookware over non-stick.
Pro-tip: Glass, cast iron, and ceramic options last longer than their plastic counterparts. So, invest in some good, sturdy cookware for your healthy kitchen.