It seemed like a long time you couldn’t watch an HGTV episode without hearing mention of a “chef’s kitchen” or “designer kitchen” with a gas stove (usually stainless steel). This appliance has become synonymous with the idea of an upscale and efficient culinary space. And so for years, it has remained a highly sought-after option in new homes, which means many of us have them. However, the recent surge in headlines about the potential dangers of gas stoves for kids has probably got you wondering if it’s time to rip this thing out and replace it with something electric. How will you keep your kids safe if you still have a gas stove?
In April 2022, several scientists and researchers conducting research into the dangers of gas stoves made public their decisions to remove the appliance from their homes. Cause? These stoves constantly leak some methane (even when turned off), polluting the domestic air with nitrogen oxides and other dangerous gases. As if sound alone wasn’t enough, studies show that indoor air pollution can damage the lungs, especially those of children. In fact, a new study links almost 13% of the country’s current childhood asthma cases to gas stove use. All this information was enough for the US Consumer Product Safety Commission to announce in January 2023 that it intends to voluntarily tighten safety standards on new gas stoves.
There are many reasons why someone may or may not have a gas stove compared to other alternatives. No judgment if you do! For many of us, it all comes down to budget. But if you’re worried about your little ones’ safety around a gas stove, these practical tips should help.
Why is this only showing up now?
It is not uncommon for product safety concerns to change over time as safety standards evolve. If you grew up in the 90s, you know that many of the toys we played with are now considered downright dangerous.
Gas stoves have long been touted for more precise control over the temperature setting than an electric stove. They also heat up faster and in many cases cook food more evenly. But over the years, fears grew, the cons began to outweigh the pros.
“Our knowledge of the health effects of NO2 outdoors has increased dramatically over the past 10 years, and we have found that it is a much greater health risk than we may have previously thought,” Josiah Kephart, assistant in the Department of Environmental Protection. and occupational health at Drexel University, Scientific American reported.
If you’re wondering how something that’s still so widely sold (and you may have paid a lot of money for) could pose such a threat, consider this: According to Scientific American, the Defense Agency environment regulates outdoor NO2 emissions to ensure safety. Exposure limits are respected, but there are no similar rules for indoor exposure.
What are other possible dangers of cooking on gas stoves near children?
In addition to the growing environmental and health concerns due to air pollutant emissions from cooking on a gas stove, parents should be aware of the following:
- Exposure to carbon monoxide
- Burns from touching a flame or hot surface
- Spill burns
- Accidental switching on of the gas stove
How to protect a child from a gas stove?
Whether you bought a gas stove recently or inherited it when you bought your home, you can cook on gas for a hot minute. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to minimize the risks to your little ones.
Keep reading to learn how to protect your little ones from kitchen hazards when cooking on a gas stove.
- Buy – and use! – carbon monoxide detector.
- Always use a ceiling fan/exhaust fan (ideally one that goes outside). This will help ventilate your kitchen and reduce exposure to fumes and nitrogen oxides. Seriously, use the vent every time, even if you’re just simmering something.
- You can also open kitchen windows while cooking.
- Find ways to minimize usage where possible. Need boiled water for tea or a bottle? You can get an inexpensive electric kettle on Amazon. Craving a stellar breakfast of scrambled eggs and bacon? An electric frying pan can handle it all.
- Invest in an air purifier. While air purifiers can’t remove all pollutants, they do improve indoor air quality—and every little bit helps. For best results, choose a model with a high clean air delivery rate (CADR).
- Cook using the two rear burners whenever possible to prevent children from reaching out and grabbing the hot pan.
- If you are cooking and need to use the two front burners, be sure to turn the pot handles towards the back of the stove.
- Make sure children always use oven mitts or oven mitts when handling hot pans.
- Use protective covers on the stove handles to prevent children from accidentally turning on the burner.
- Or, completely remove the stove handles and store them out of reach in the cab when the stove is not in use.
Finally, keep in mind that many reputable medical and scientific resources recommend replacing a gas stove with an electric one when the budget allows. A good reason for a mini-reno?