Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Mind your blades - knife handling safety tips

With the holidays approaching, whether you decide to purchase most of your food for entertainment ready-made, or whether you decide to go the homemade route, either way, you are probably going to be doing a lot more food prepping than you typically do. As such, you're likely going to be handling knives more than usual, which in turn will increase the risks associated with knife related injuries. Be sure to follow these knife handling safety tips to avoid this trend:
  • Maintain your tools – knives that are well sharpened are far less likely to be causes of injury than dull knives. It is important to take good care of your knives to protect their sharpness. Be sure to wash and dry them soon after use, and store them in a knife block so that they're not rattling around in drawers, getting dinged by other objects in there. Also, be sure to cut on appropriate surfaces to ensure your knives don't dull prematurely. Of course, even with the best of care, knives will dull over time, so you should be in the habit of getting them sharpened. While there are tools for sharpening your knives at home, unless you are very experienced in the practice of blade sharpening, you really should take your knives to a professional for sharpening.

  • Let there be light – be sure that you are working in a well lit area. When you can see what you are doing, you are less likely to cause injury to yourself.

  • Eliminate distractions – most accidents, whether on the road, at work, or at home, happen when your attention is divided. This being the case, be sure to focus on what you are doing: when you are using sharp objects, keep your attention directed at the task on hand.

  • Cut away from yourself – when you are cutting, use strokes that move away from you, and not towards you.

  • Don't catch it - If you drop a knife, or if you see it is going to fall, don't try to catch it (this is counter intuitive because our reflexes usually have us reaching out to prevent objects from hitting the ground). Move away from the falling knife, and retrieve it only after it lands.

  • Don't pry – as tempting as it may be, using a knife for prying, as you may think to do when you have a jar that's difficult to open, is a bad idea. It is likely to cause injury to you, and damage to the blade. If you find that you are often reaching for a knife to pry open your jars, it would be a good idea to invest in a kitchen gadget designed to help you open jars instead.

  • Don't run – never run with a knife in your hand. If you have to run, remember to put the knife down first.

  • Don't throw – it may sound absurdly obvious, but it actually happens frequently that people give knives to others improperly. Don't throw or even toss a knife to someone else; pass it instead.

  • Use cutting boards – never cut against the palm of your hand. You may be deceived into feeling like you have control, but one slip of the knife is all it takes to prove otherwise. Use cutting boards instead. Cutting boards are specially designed to protect your knives too.


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