Here’s something you might not realize about home cooking: it’s surprisingly dangerous. Each year in the U.S., about 5,000 people are injured and 480 are killed due to home cooking-related fires.
That’s why safety is a top priority when you’re designing an outdoor kitchen. With proper design, these kitchens are even safer than indoor kitchens due to the use of natural stone, stainless steel hardware, and other commercial-grade details.
We’d like to share these top tips for making your outdoor kitchen safe with the help of an outdoor landscape designer.
Hot Stoves and Grills
When it comes to the safety of outdoor rooms, most people immediately think of grills, barbecues, smokers, stoves, and other hot cooktops. That’s because 70% of Americans have some type of outdoor cooking setup, whether it’s a basic charcoal grill or a full-on outdoor kitchen.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, grills pose a serious safety hazard if they’re not installed and maintained correctly. Each year, there are more than 10,000 home barbecue fires, 4,500 related structure files, and another 5,700 fires due to other types of outdoor cooking.
So what’s the best way to ensure your outdoor cooking is safe? First, have kitchen cooktops installed by a professional and include built-in safety features. Second, design plenty of space around the cooking area and restrict children and pets from entering it while cooking.
Finally, keep all cooking appliances, especially gas and electric grills and stoves, in top working condition. Have them serviced and tuned up at least once a year.
Batteries and Charging Stations
Have you considered the hazards posed by phone batteries and device charging stations? A California boat fire brought this issue into the public eye recently. The culprit of the fire, which killed 34 people, was likely a lithium battery from a cell phone.
Promote safety by creating a built-in charging station for your devices, surrounded by appropriate insulation. For safety, locate it away from areas where people congregate.
With the help of a licensed electrician and your landscape design professional, you can create a charging station that’s safe and practical.
Minnesota has harsh winters, and even spring and fall can be quite chilly. If you want to continue using your outdoor kitchen during the cold months, you may need some outdoor heating.
Heaters come in many forms: gas, propane, electric, and infrared. Sizes range from small, low foot-warming heaters to huge high-heat devices that can warm an entire outdoor room.
But these heaters can be hazardous, so add them with caution. Make sure the base of the heater is completely stable and can’t be knocked over by a happy-go-lucky child or pet. The heater should also have safety features, like a surrounding screen that’s cool to the touch.
Our recommendation for including an outdoor heater in your space is to build it into the landscape design with the help of a professional designer and/or electrician. Create a stable stone base that will prevent the heater from ever posing a hazard to your guests.
In terms of power cords, here’s our best advice: Never, ever allow power cords to stretch across an outdoor room. It creates a trip hazard with the potential for setting up a series of other risks.
Ideally, all cooking appliances, corded equipment, and outlets should be built into your outdoor kitchen with the help of an architectural landscape designer. This eliminates the need for extra cords or stretching cords across the ground.
Outdoor Flooring and Lighting
Finally, we’d like to mention two often overlooked safety features in outdoor rooms: flooring materials and well-designed lighting.
Uneven flooring is one of the top contributors to falling injuries, especially for people over age 65. Of more than 8 million slip-and-fall injuries each year in the U.S., fully 2 million of those are caused by loose and jagged flooring materials.
Consider the flooring materials right from the start and don’t skimp on materials. That flooring material investment coupled with complementary lighting will pay itself back with the peace of mind from knowing that your family and guests are safe.
Safe and Beautiful Outdoor Kitchens
At Architectural Landscape Design, Inc., safety is always a top priority in our outdoor kitchen designs. We can help you build safety into your outdoor kitchen design from the biggest layout decisions to the tiniest details.
We’re a residential design-build company serving the Minneapolis/St. Paul area and we’ve designed some of Minnesota’s most stylish and functional outdoor spaces. Let’s create an outdoor kitchen you and your guests will enjoy for years to come.