Number one: don’t get burned. Although it speaks for itself, burns in the kitchen slow the cooking process down, hurt like heck, and sour a good mood. A serious burn can even lead to a trip to the emergency room.

Your first line of defense is a dry, double-folded terry cloth towel. Today’s modern cookware has an important feature: on the stove, the pan will get hot but the pot handle will not. However, the handle can get hot if the pan is not centered on the burner, the handle is over another burner that is still producing heat, or the pan was in the oven. Every professional chef I know will lightly tap the pan handle before grabbing it to see if it is hot. A dry, double-folded terry cloth towel is a better hot pad than a hot pad because it is easier to put it in a pocket, hook it in an apron string, or throw it over your shoulder without misplacing it and it is also thicker than a hot pad. The only problem you will run into when using a towel is moisture. Steam is one of the fastest ways to transfer heat. If your towel has any moisture on it, when you grab the pan with the towel it will steam the palm of your hand. Use a separate towel for wiping up spills and cleaning your cook area as you go.

Number two: travel advisory warning. Traveling through a crowded kitchen is a dangerous activity. A crowded kitchen is two or more people. When you pass behind someone, you are out of their view. So tell them you are there. This precludes upsets with hot pans, trays of food and sharp knives.

Number three: knife safety.

  1. Never try to catch a falling knife.

  2. Only have the knife in your hand while you are cutting.

  3. Never share a cutting board with another cutter. Either take turns or have multiple boards and knives.

  4. If you must travel with the knife, travel with it point down, edge pointing toward your back and right by your side. Never have the point or the edge of the knife toward another person.

Common sense is your best ally in the kitchen. Your safety and the safety of everyone in the kitchen should be your number one priority when cooking.