Cooking a tasty meal can be a fun experience that most people will look forward to but when you have a physical disability it can be a little less fun because there are more challenges and risks while in the kitchen. When you have Spina Bifida or any physical disability of that matter you have to be more cautious in the kitchen because stability issues make it easier to fall and cut yourself without giving any kind of warning. You can cook safely when you have a physical disability but there are more risks associated with it that you should put into practice and be aware of it. Cooking with a disability is not safe for disabled people without necessary safety precautions and accessibility. I am limited to some of the things I can cook in my kitchen because it’s not totally accessible for me but I can still cook some things. In this post, I am going to talk about how I am able to cook a meal safely without putting myself at risk for cuts or burns!
Don’t put hot things on your lap– When you have Spina Bifida one of the most common injuries while in the kitchen is people getting third-degree burns and nine times out of ten it’s preventable. Many people with Spina Bifida have limited or no feeling in their legs so what often happens is people will put hot things on their lap because they can’t feel the temperature of it which can result in a serious burn that may need medical treatment. Please don’t do this and be extra cautious of the areas you have no feeling because although you might be able to put something super hot on your lap and not feel a thing it’s not smart and can result in you hurting yourself badly. I have full sensation in my upper legs so you will never see me put something I just took on of the oven on my thighs because I would immediately feel pain but my lower legs I have to be more cautious. I have very limited feeling below my knees and none in my feet so I can walk on hot pavement or stub my toe and not even notice until it’s too late and I am sitting in a pool of blood. Be extra cautious of the areas you have no feeling and if you absolutely must put something hot in your lap lay down down a towel or oven mitt on top of it to protect your skin!
Put your microwave on the counter- Burns are common for people with Spina Bifida or any physical disability in general and a lot of the time it’s because someone was doing something stupid that they shouldn’t have even tried. People often like to use overhead microwaves that they can’t really see what’s inside because it makes them feel independent but this is dangerous There will always be risks when you cook anything hot or use something sharp but when you have a microwave that is level and that you can see clearly what’s inside there is significantly less risk for injury than if you used something that required you to reach. The microwave I use regularly sits on our countertop so I can easily see what’s cooking and if I start to take something out and realize it’s too hot I can throw it on my countertop instead of myself. If you can’t see what your doing it won’t be that smooth because you will panic which will result in your spilling something hot on yourself. If you don’t have the option of getting a microwave that sits lower wait a few minutes before removing hot things or ask for help if you truly feel it’s unsafe!
Carry knives downward- Carrying knives or any sharp object sometimes is necessary for making certain foods but it also can be very dangerous without necessary safety precautions. Whenever you are carrying something sharp like a knife never have the blade upward-facing you and always have the blade facing down towards the floor. If you were to slip and the blade happened to be upward facing you it could be very serious possibly resulting in death but if it was facing down there is a chance it could miss you entirely and not be as serious. If you drop something sharp never try and catch it but let it drop because you can always get another and no food is worth slashing your wrist over. I will use a steak knife if I absolutely have to but if I am making a peanut sandwich and it’s not really necessary I don’t walk around with sharp things but choose duller options like a butter knife because I feel safer that way.
Put things you use everyday on lower shelves- You shouldn’t have to stand on a chair to get a cereal bowl every morning and if you have to do that you should do some rearranging because that is not an accessible environment. It can more dangerous for people with stability issues to stand on a chair because you can lose your balance a lot quicker than most people and not be able to catch yourself. Put things that you use every day on lower shelves so you don’t have to go through great lengths just to have a bowl of cereal and put yourself in danger in the process. My kitchen is not one-hundred percent accessible for me and I don’t expect it to be as long as I am living at home but the things I use regularly are accessible and I can get to them without having to stand on a chair.
Ask for help–I know it can be hard to ask for help for almost everything you do and you may not always want to but sometimes it’s the only way to be safe. If I am cooking something in my kitchen and have even the smallest amount of doubt that something could end badly I don’t do it and ask for help. It’s not worth trying to get a glass cup if there is a much greater risk of me falling and cutting myself when I could have just asked for help and totally avoided the disaster. When you have a physical disability and your stability is not that great it’s easy to fall and not be able to catch yourself so that is something that you always need to be mindful about.
Make something easy-I can cook a lot of meals for myself but I am limited to some food choices because the oven is unsafe for me to use. Cooking is not one of my strengths because I can’t cook anything outside of using a microwave so my baking knowledge is very limited and sometimes I will be home with all these choices but not sure how to cook any of them. In these circumstances, I stick to what I know and make something like a sandwich that I know I can do successfully without disaster. Sometimes I do get sick of making sandwiches and do make other things but there are times making a turkey sandwich is my option and it’s either that or don’t eat. I can’t skip meals like some people can because it has more negative effects on my body than it does for most people so I usually just opt for things I don’t really like that much to better my health.
We all love a good meal but when you have a physical disability it can be hard to make something good while still having fun and being safe. Disabled people have more risks in the kitchen than abled people and we can’t just decide that we want to make a tray of brownies without giving the safety risks a thought. I am limited to some of my food choices because I can’t cook anything that requires a stove but I am not near as limited as some disabled people. Some people are much more limited than I am and literally rely on someone else to make every meal and snack for them so I don’t complain about my ability. Disabled people want to cook meals like abled people and it kills us when things aren’t accessible and we have to ask someone else to do it for us but sometimes we have no choice. Safety in the kitchen should always be a priority because it only takes a few second to get serious burn that may become permanent. It’s okay to take risks in your career but you don’t want to be a risk taker while in the kitchen because a fall could affect you for years to come. How do you stay safe while cooking with a physical disability?
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