The outdoor kitchen often becomes the family gathering place when the weather is mild. Whether you’re grilling hamburgers and hot dogs or shrimp and veggie kabobs, the outdoor kitchen shifts the family epicenter from indoors to outdoors. With everyone gathered around for a delicious outdoor meal, it’s important this alternate kitchen space is safe and kid-friendly.
With little ones underfoot, cooking any meal can be a challenge. Cooking in the outdoor kitchen requires following the same safety protocols as you would inside. Supervise toddlers and young children at all times when cooking and grilling. Keep kids (even school age children) away from hot cooking surfaces or devices. A good rule to have is “no kids in the cooking area when food is being prepared.”
A fire extinguisher is a safety must-have in any kitchen, inside or outdoors. Make sure it is readily available in any emergency and that you know how to use it. Know how to turn off the power and/or gas supplies in an emergency as well. In addition, keeping your grill and smoker clean reduces the risk of a dangerous grease fire significantly. Taking fire precautions is one of the most important steps in making the outdoor kitchen safe and kid-friendly.
Depending on the age of your children, you may consider installing childproof locks on any of the outdoor kitchen cabinets and drawers. Never allow grill tools, especially pointy meat forks to dangle within reach of grabby little hands.
It’s very easy to become relaxed when cooking and dining outside—and you should be relaxed! That’s one of the joys of an outdoor kitchen. However, when relaxed, basic safety protocols can become overlooked. For example, never leave knives, meat forks, skewers or other potentially dangerous tools/cutlery where younger children can grab them. Accidents can happen and when they do, it usually happens very quickly.
Get the kids involved when cooking outdoors. Give them a kid-friendly tutorial, showing them the basics of cooking on the outdoor grill. This is a great way to emphasize safety and proper cooking technique. Include the kids in the food preparation, from washing the vegetables to wrapping potatoes in foil and observing the adults skewering meat for kabobs. Preparing meals in your outdoor kitchen can be a family affair as long as the space is kept kid-friendly and safe for all ages.