Making the Kitchen Safe and Accessible -- Storage Considerations
Posted: December 13, 2011
Have you ever started to prepare something in the kitchen and found that you couldn't reach the item you needed? One of the bothersome parts of working in a kitchen is that items we often need are in inconvenient locations. Sometimes we are required to retrieve items from over our heads or from below knee level. But if we put good storage principles to work, we can eliminate the need to bend, lift, and balance items altogether.
It is important that we carefully consider kitchen storage. As we age, our balance and equilibrium changes. When we reach for objects our center of gravity shifts, requiring that we maintain balance in a new position. This adjustment becomes increasingly difficult as we age. Also, the muscles that support our eyes deteriorate with age. This leaves us with a reduced range of upward gaze.
General Storage and Work Space Principles:
- Kitchen storage should be within easy reach. Shelves should reach a maximum height of 56 inches, and there should be adjustable shelving between 14 and 48 inches from the floor.
- Food and utensil storage areas should be organized within this area to avoid uncomfortable bending or dangerous reaching.
- Keep heaviest items on lower shelves. You don't want to balance them over your head.
- Lightweight items should be stored on higher shelves.
- Least-used items should be stored on the highest shelves.
- Items should be stored where they are most often used. For example, the coffee pot, filters, and coffee should be stored near the sink.
- Drawers, Cabinets, and Countertops
- Use drawer dividers to keep items separate. These can be purchased or made out of cardboard boxes that have been cut to proper size.
- Hanging utensils and pots from hooks in the cabinets can be more effective than putting in the drawer or base cabinets. Peg boards and hooks can also be used to hang items where they are most needed.
- Roll-out or pullout shelves make storage areas accessible.
- Use a grabber to reach those lightweight items that are difficult for you to reach. Sometimes a dowel rod with a hook at the end can be used to reach those items that are out of reach.
- Wall racks, mounted on the inside of cabinet doors or the back of the countertop, can hold often-used items.
- Lazy Susans can make cabinet storage more efficient and accessible.
- A rolling cart can be used to move items from one area to another or for accessible storage.
- Keep countertops free of excess clutter so there is adequate space for meal preparation and cleanup.
- It should be possible to sit while preparing food to minimize fatigue. This could be in the form of a small table and chair.
- Sometimes the countertop height is too high for people to use comfortably. Pullout boards installed 30 to 32 inches high or work boards placed over open drawers can provide convenient work surfaces at lower heights.
Make certain that the drawer suspension system is strong enough to handle the additional load.
This article was created by the Family Caregiving community of eXtension, the community of Extension professionals on the web at www.extension.org.
Rayna Cooper is a Registered Dietitian and Family & Consumer Sciences/Nutrition Educator serving Penn State Extension in Adams County. Penn State is committed to affirmative action, equal opportunity, and the diversity of its workforce. Penn State Extension in Adams County is located at 670 Old Harrisburg Road, Suite 204, Gettysburg, PA 17325, phone 334-6271, email email@example.com.