Working with sharp tools is a necessary activity for those of us who are self sufficient and living as a part of nature. Despite some alarming recommendations from the British Government, knives remain the most useful tool that Humankind has ever invented and it follows that a dull knife is a dangerous knife. Follow the 4 rules of knife safety to stay safe.
A sharp knife will bite into the wood and cut it as you would expect. A dull knife, or a blunt knife will not always bite into the wood and so we put more pressure on the knife to try to get it to cut. Then the knife can slip off and into something soft nearby like you hand or your legs.
Needless to say, a nasty cut can become life threatening very quickly and if you are miles away from help in the woods then a simple day hike or trip to the woods can become a life or death situation very quickly.
Much like firearms safety rules, we can massively reduce the chances of cutting ourselves or each other accidentally if we follow some basic rules every time we use a knife.
Rule Number 1
Be a Samurai
Never draw your knife unless you intend to use it. Your knife belongs in it´s sheath at all times when it is not cutting something. Most of the knife accidents that I have seen have been caused by people fiddling with their new toy.
Knives left laying on the ground or not in their sheaths when not in use are another big cause of knife accidents. If it is not in it´s sheath, somebody will eventually step on it, stand on it or fall on it and you will eventually loose it too.
Being safe around knives means being switched on and staying switched on while you are using them. If something feels wrong, stop.
Rule number 2
Be aware of where the knife is in relation to your body and where the blade will travel if it slips. This means making sure that you are not carving while it is between your legs. Put your elbows on your knees when carving.
Rule number 3
Do not walk around with your knife out. When you make a cut, always put the knife back in it´s sheath before you take a step. You dont want to trip, slip or fall over while holding a knife.
Rule number 4
Always use your leading hand. If you are right handed then use your right hand. It might be tempting, when your hand gets tired, to switch hands but if you have ever tried to write with your off-hand then you will understand why this is not a safe idea.
There are plenty of other things that you can add to this list, making sure there is plenty of space around you, making sure that your knife is always sharp and in good conditions, have a good medical kit with you at all times etc… but if we have too many rules to follow then people tend to forget so with these four rules, you can avoid most of the common self inflicted knife injuries.
These skills are taught on all of our courses, if you want to learn more, get in touch