AT HOME: THE KITCHEN

Kitchens are, if you’ll pardon the pun, are ripe for slips, trips and falls. The combination of water, grease and food prep items on the floor can turn a dry floor into a skating rink. When you add sharp utensils, hot stoves, and countertops filled with bowls and utensils, the potential danger from slips and trips is heightened. Our kitchen floorplan graphic highlights areas in and around the kitchen where slips and falls are most common. Cooking takes a lot of movement. That’s why kitchen designers attempt to keep the sink, refrigerator and stove within a convenient triangle.  It’s precisely in this area where many kitchen falls occur.
Stop the Slip with Handi-Treads in the Kitchen

In my book, Stop-the-Slip, I highlight one example of a potentially disastrous kitchen trip and fall experienced by well-known late-night comedian Jimmy Fallon.

Jimmy Fallon

Late night talk show host Jimmy Fallon learned the hard way about slipping and falling in the kitchen. He had to wear a finger splint on his show for several months because he almost lost his finger after falling in his kitchen.

He said he tripped and fell on a braided rug that was on the kitchen floor. When he reached out to catch himself, his ring got caught on the counter and almost ripped off his finger. The injury called “ring avulsion” required 6 hours of micro surgery to reattach his finger including using a vein from his foot to replace the crushed vein in his finger.

According to Fallon, recovery included ten days in the intensive care unit and a complete lack of feeling for eight weeks. He was lucky because surgeons were able to reattach his finger; most people with this type of injury will lose their finger.

Fallon commented about tripping on a rug “that my wife loves and I can’t wait to burn to the ground.” And while he makes a joke about it, the conflict of fashion versus safety is common. We must find a way to maintain a beautiful home and still prioritize avoiding STF injuries.

So the question is, how can you reduce the risk of slips, trips and falls in the kitchen.

PREVENTION: The first step in making a kitchen safer is prevention.  One of my first jobs as a teen was in a fast-food kitchen. The mantra of my boss was simple and clear – “clean as you go.” If you apply this rule while working in a kitchen, cleaning up water and spills as they occur, you will have gone a long way towards mitigating the temporary environmental conditions that lead to slips and falls.

Prevention can also come in the form of eliminating potential hazards such as things one might trip over like the braided rug in Jimmy Fallon’s kitchen.

MITIGATION: You can also mitigate the danger of wet conditions in a kitchen by employing products that improve traction.  For example, placing a rubberized safety mat in front of your kitchen sink not only increases your safety, it also provides greater comfort while you’re working.

Of course, a commercial safety mat is not the most attractive addition to your kitchen decor, so our ClearGrip Treads, ClearGrip Tape, and Grit Treads are great choices.  ClearGrip Treads can be applied to any wood, stone or ceramic tile floor to dramatically improve traction even when wet. Because they’re clear, the beauty of your floor is not hidden underneath a mat. They are a great solution for wet areas in the kitchen.

ORGANIZATION: Finally, the risk of slips, trips and falls in the kitchen can be minimized by thoughtful organization of the kitchen and its utensils, supplies and appliances. First, organize your pantry so that the items you use most are within easy reach. Don’t put the salt in an upper cabinet that might cause you to attempt to reach too high and throw off your balance.

Similarly, heavy pots, pans and appliances should be stored in the base cabinetry so you can lift the weight with your knees and not your back. When you’re off balance it’s a natural reflex to put your hands out to catch yourself and, in the kitchen, it’s usually the countertops you try to grab. The problem with countertops is that if there are knives or glass containers on them. When you slip, you could end up with a serious cut on your hands. Keep the kitchen clean and organized by putting things away when you’re done with them.

Of course being aware of potential slip, trip and fall hazards in the kitchen is the first step. If you’re thinking about safety, the chances are you’re going to be safe!