(NAPSI)—Cooking and eating with family and friends can be delightful as long as you’re careful. Here are 20 hints from health and safety experts that can help:

1. Never leave children alone in the kitchen.

2. Wash your hands in hot, soapy water before and after handling food, particularly raw meats. Use paper towels to dry off.

3. Always keep any foods that can spoil, such as dairy products and meat, in the refrigerator until you need them and put them back right after using them. Don’t let perishable foods sit out on the counter.

4. Don’t let kids lick their fingers or put their hands in their mouths when handling food. This is especially impor?tant with raw foods such as cookie dough or meat.

5. Make sure you have, and test monthly, ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) receptacles in your kitchen to prevent shock and electrocution.

6. Don’t put cooked food on an unwashed plate or a cutting board that has had raw food on it. Always put cooked food on a clean plate.

7. If you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue and turn away from the food. Wash your hands right after.

8. Keep all electrical appliances away from water. Stay away from electrical sockets, especially if your hands are wet, and instruct children not to put their fingers or hands anywhere near sockets.

9. Use a frying screen over pans to prevent grease splattering. If grease catches fire, cover the pan with a lid.

10. Never cook while there’s a child in your arms. In fact, keep all children at least three feet away from all cooking appliances.

11. Never add water to a pan that has hot oil in it. It could make the oil spatter.

12. Before making any recipe, check all the ingredients and be sure no one who will be at the table is allergic to any of them. Check food labels on prepared foods.

13. Ranges or cooktops cause 62 percent of home fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Keep anything that can catch fire away from your stove top, including oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels and curtains.

14. Keep your oven and stove top clean of grease and dust.

15. Never cook while sleepy, drinking alcohol, or taking medication that makes you drowsy.

16. Never disable a smoke alarm while cooking.

17. Turn pot handles in, away from reaching little hands.

18. Never leave the kitchen when something’s cooking. The leading cause of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking.

19. If a dish towel touches the raw meats or the juices from the raw meats, quickly remove it from the kitchen for laundering. Clean the sink, countertops or any areas that raw meats or their juices may have touched.

20. Double-check that everything is off when you finish cooking.

Learn More

For further facts and tips on safety from the Electrical Safety Foundation International, the premier nonprofit organization dedicated exclusively to promoting electrical safety at home and in the workplace, visit www.esfi.org.

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On the Net:North American Precis Syndicate, Inc.(NAPSI)