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10 ways to keep your kids safe when cooking with a gas stove

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For what seemed like the longest time, you couldn’t watch an episode of HGTV without hearing mention of a “chef’s kitchen” or “designer kitchen” with a gas range (usually stainless steel). This appliance became synonymous with the idea of ​​an exclusive, efficient culinary space. And so for many years it remained a much sought after option in new homes – meaning many of us have them in ours. But a recent surge in headlines about the potential dangers of gas stoves for kids has probably got you wondering if it’s time to rip that thing out and replace it with something electric. How do are you protecting your children if you still have a gas stove?

In April 2022, several scientists and researchers who had conducted studies on the dangers of gas stoves announced their decisions to remove the appliance from their homes. The reason? These stoves constantly leak some methane (even when turned off), contaminating household air with nitrogen oxides and other dangerous gases. As if just the sound of it isn’t scary enough, research shows that this indoor air pollution can damage the lungs — especially the lungs of children. In fact, a new study linked nearly 13% of current childhood asthma cases in the country to the use of gas stoves. All of this information was enough for the US Consumer Product Safety Commission to state in January 2023 that it intends to strengthen voluntary safety standards for new gas stoves.

There are many reasons why someone may or may not have a gas stove over other alternatives. No judgment if you do! For many of us, it all boils down to the budget. But if you’re concerned about keeping your little ones safe around a gas stove, these handy tips should help.

Why is all this coming to light now?

It is not uncommon for security issues associated with a product to change over time as security standards evolved. If you grew up in the 90s, you know that a ton of the toys we played with are now considered downright dangerous.

Gas stoves have long been touted for having more precise control over the temperature setting than you would find with an electric stove. They also heat up faster and in many cases cook the food more evenly. But with concerns growing over the years, the downsides are starting to outweigh the upsides.

“Our knowledge of the health effects of outdoor NO2 has grown dramatically in the last 10 years, and we have found that it is much more of a health risk than we may have previously thought,” Josiah Kephart, an assistant professor in the Department of Environment. and work environment at Drexel University, told Scientific American.

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If you’re wondering how something that’s still so widely marketed (and that you may have paid a lot of money for) could possibly pose such a threat, consider this: According to Scientific AmericanThe Danish Environmental Protection Agency regulates outdoor NO2 emissions to ensure that safe exposure limits are followed, but there is no similar regulation for indoor exposure.

What are other possible dangers of cooking with gas stoves around children?

In addition to the growing environmental and health concerns over air pollutants emitted when cooking on a gas stove, parents should be aware of:

  • Exposure to carbon monoxide
  • Burns when touching the flame or heated surface
  • Burns from spills
  • Accidentally lighting a gas stove

How can you keep your child safe around your gas stove?

Whether you recently purchased a gas stove or inherited one when you bought your house, you may be cooking with gas for a hot minute. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to minimize risks for the little ones.

Read on for practical ways you can protect your little ones from kitchen risks when cooking with a gas stove.

  1. Buy – and use! — a carbon monoxide detector.
  2. Always use your overhead vent/hood fan (ideally one that vents to the outside). This will help ventilate your kitchen and reduce exposure to off-gassing and nitrogen oxides. Seriously, use the vent Every timeeven if you just cook something.
  3. You can also open kitchen windows while cooking.
  4. Find ways to minimize usage where possible. Need boiled water for tea or a bottle? You can get an affordable electric kettle on Amazon. Craving an all-star breakfast with scrambled eggs and bacon? An electric baking tray can do it all.
  5. Invest in an air purifier. Although air purifiers can’t remove all pollutants, they improve indoor air quality—and every little bit helps. Choose one with a high clean air delivery rate (CADR) for best results.
  6. Cook with the two rear burners whenever possible to avoid children reaching up and grabbing a hot pan.
  7. If you are cooking a meal and need to use the two front burners, be sure to turn the pot’s handle toward the back of the stove.
  8. Make sure children always use pot holders or oven mitts when handling hot pans.
  9. Use childproof covers on the stove’s knobs to prevent children from accidentally turning on a burner.
  10. Or remove the stove knobs entirely and store them in a cabinet out of reach when your stove is not in use.

Finally, keep in mind that many respected medical and scientific resources recommend replacing your gas stove with an electric one when your budget allows. Good excuse for a mini-reno?