Health and Safety

How can I prevent leaks from machines?

Dishwashers and washing machines use water. Flexible hoses made from rubber or a synthetic material move water from the tap to machine and around parts of the appliance. They are not as sturdy as the soldered copper or rigid plastic pipes that are used for your plumbing and they may leak. A noticeable drip from a pipe that is causing a pool on the floor must be attended to at once. Maybe the connector has come loose and you can see drips building up around the top of the hose. Turn off the water at the stop tap and try tightening the screw fastening. With someone watching the connector to shout if water gushes out, turn the water on slowly.

If the hose or connector is worn, replace them. They are normally available from your kitchen specialist or local hardware store. If you live in a flat and your washing machines are on a wooden floor above other people’s rooms, check that your insurance covers you for a burst. Most houses have concrete ground floors. Dishwashers and washing machines are best set on concrete sub floors for stability. This reduces vibration and consequent pipe wear. Solid floors also limit damage if there is a burst.

Some new dishwashers and home laundry appliances have water stop devices that guarantee a leak free performance. Double skin hoses, stop valves and, as a last resort, a drip tray that senses moisture and cuts the supply make sure that you need never worry about flooding again. It is worth paying a little extra for such protection, especially if you live in an upstairs apartment

Are thieves really likely to burgle my kitchen?

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Kitchen appliances are becoming an attractive target for thieves. As domestic appliances have added features over the years, they have become more expensive and are seen as rich pickings. You hear of proud homeowners mentioning that they have an AEG dishwasher or Whirlpool cooker. Valuable status branded goods such as these have become far more interesting to house breaking villains!

To reduce the risk of theft, be sure that your home is protected by secure doors, windows and locking mechanisms. Don’t be careless, leaving doors open in summer etc. An alarm and a noisy dog are good deterrents. Record make and serial numbers of all appliances. Put your postcode on appliances and cabinets with an ‘invisible’ marker pen. The writing will show up under ultra violet light. Such pens may be bought from security shops and should come with stickers to place on doors and windows informing would-be intruders that your property is marked. This measure then becomes a deterrent.

If you kitchen is fitted correctly appliances will be securely built in to housing cabinets. Their removal will take time and discourage theft. Roller shuttered wall cabinets that extend down to the worktop can conceal small appliances such as toasters, kettles and microwave ovens. Finally, check that your insurance policy covers you for the full replacement value of all kitchen items.

Clearing up after floods

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Floods range from those caused by a burst water pipe to serious area flooding. Kitchens are particularly prone to water damage. There are many floor mounted electrical appliances that can be destroyed by water. Kitchen cabinets are generally made from chipboard, a sheet material that is vulnerable to moisture. When exposed to water, it swells up and becomes weak and crumbles.

If flooding is not serious, water may only have affected plinths and floor coverings. Dry floor and coverings thoroughly. Remove plinths and allow air to circulate underneath cabinets. If the plinths show signs of swelling, order replacements from your kitchen supplier. Alternatively you may be able to buy matching melamine faced board cut in to strips to make your own plinths. If water has penetrated electrical appliances, an electrician must check them before use. Be sure that the kitchen is thoroughly dry before beginning any work.

An insurance company usually assesses serious damage. Normally you are entitled to like-for-like replacement. You may find that insurance only covers damaged base cabinets and not the unmarked wall units. Matching them could be a problem if the range is obsolete. It may be worth putting any insurance payout towards updating your kitchen. Renewing your kitchen allows you to incorporate measures to limit damage in the event of further flooding. Tiled floors, cabinets on legs and appliances and sockets positioned well above the ‘flood line’ will reduce damage in future.

How can I make my kitchen safer?

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Statistics show that most accidents happen in the home and most are in the kitchen. The young and elderly are particularly at risk. The best time to consider safety is when you are planning your kitchen with a professional designer. Then you can be sure that you have safe storage for heavy objects and dangerous substances, no overloaded power points and a well-positioned hob. In addition your kitchen should be ergonomically planned to minimise unnecessary movements and accident-causing fatigue.


Not the best place for bleach or other poisons. A child can easily access this cabinet. Consider an auto lock or keeping poisons out of a childs reach.

Be aware of common problems in existing kitchens to reduce the risk of accidents. Cuts from knives and tins, injuries from slipping on wet floors and tripping over trailing leads happen frequently and can be serious. Burns and scalds are the result of distraction. Poisoning accounts for one in five household deaths and most of the victims are under five years old. Children are also at risk from trapped fingers in doors and overturned pots and kettles.

Magnet Lock

A hidden "Magnet Lock" helps keep children out of floor cabinets.

Do not keep heavy objects in wall cabinets. Better to store hazardous substances here out of harm’s way. Good lighting will make cutting with knives safer. Try to avoid working in your own shadow. Never operate toasters, kettles or any other electrical appliances near a sink. They could fall in to water. If you’re short of sockets, converting singles to doubles is not expensive. Hobs are danger areas. Be sure that you are not heating handles with an adjacent ring and don’t position handles over the edge. Curtains should be well away from the hob. If in doubt, replace with a blind. There should be plenty of worktop space near your oven and hob so that you can quickly set down hot and heavy items.

Keeping your kitchen clean

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Despite the need for hygiene, kitchens can quickly become the dirtiest room in the house. Fronts around the hob and oven suffer from grease build-up. Dust is attracted to the sticky surface and becomes a grimy layer. Cleaning takes care. Wood doors should be wiped with hot water and detergent. Make sure that any excess water is sponged away as it may damage joints in the wood. Once dry, check to see if any scratches mar the surface. Matching poster paint will colour the scratch and topped with furniture wax makes a good repair. Rub wood polish in to all wood surfaces to make cleaning easier next time.

Laminate doors are easier to clean as they are flush and impervious to water. There are many ‘grease busting’ sprays available but try a small area on the inside of a door first to make sure that it does not damage or discolour the surface. Simply spray on, leave for the recommended time and wipe away. Protect metal areas such as fridges and hobs as there is a real chance that such powerful cleaners could affect the protective coating or stove enamelling. A further clean with warm soapy water and buffing with a dry cloth will restore your cabinets to showroom new.

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