Since prehistoric times, knives have been used as tools, weapons, and eating utensils. Despite human beings using knives for million of years, a lot of people aren’t too sharp when it comes to knife safety.
The knife injury rate in the USA is around 1.56 injuries for every 1000 residents every year, with lacerations making up 94% of all injuries. Learning the basics of knife safety can help to significantly reduce accidents and incidents. The following guide will help you to stay safe during knife use.
Knife Safety Basics
While some knife safety rules may seem obvious, it’s a good idea to know what they are and to make them a standard part of your routine.
1. Quality matters
Always use a good quality, well-made knife. While cheaper knives may be better for your budget, they will tend to be subject to breakage and even blade snapping, which can easily cause accidents.
2. Handle with care
Always keep hands away from the blade of your knife – the knife has a handle for a reason!
3. Safety in sight
When washing dishes, never leave a knife in the sink or washing bowl when filled with soapy water. Unfortunately, placing hands into soapy water containing a knife is one of the most common causes of injury in the USA.
4. Fall back
If you lose your grip on a knife, let it fall. Stand back and never, under any circumstances, try to catch it.
5. Don’t make waves
Never wave a knife around during use, for example when gesticulating or performing a demonstration. Should you need to use your hands, carefully place the knife down on a safe surface first.
6. The right tool for the job
Always use the right knife for the job and use your knife only for the intended purpose.
7. Keep safe and carry on
When carrying a knife, always hold it with the cutting edge angled away from the body; even if you’re only moving a short distance.
8. Come to pass
Should you need to hand a knife to another person, it’s best to place it down on a flat surface and let them pick it up. If this isn’t possible, always present the knife handle first while keeping your own hand away from the blade.
9. Safety in store
Always store knives properly in a block, magnetic knife strip, sheath, or rack, and never leave a knife too close to the edge of a surface. Knives should never be left on surfaces, in sinks, or other exposed areas.
10. Perfect protection
Where possible, use blade guards with newly purchased knives to prevent accidental injury.
11. Not child’s play
You should always, of course, store knives well out of reach of children, ideally in a locked cabinet when not in use.
12. Don’t drink and slice
It should go without saying – but we’re going to say it anyway – never, ever use a knife after drinking alcohol or taking strong medication.
13. Knife aid
Unfortunately, with the best will in the world, accidents do happen and it’s good practice to always keep a first aid box handy containing disinfectant cream, bandages and Band Aids.
Knife Safety During Use
14. One direction
When using your knife, always cut in a direction away from the body and keep fingers and thumbs away from the cutting line.
15. Dry run
Always make sure that your hands are dry when using your knife to avoid accidental slipping during use.
16. Hand in glove
Where appropriate, use protective equipment such as safety gloves. A good quality pair of gloves can really help to prevent serious injuries while cutting.
17. By the board
If using a cutting board, place a damp cloth underneath it to prevent the board from slipping while cutting. Alternatively, invest in a rubber holding mat for extra safety.
18. A holding pattern
Always hold your knife correctly – for finer work, place your thumb on the spine of the blade to allow for greater leverage while reducing the risk of accidents.
19. A step in the right direction
Should you need to change direction while cutting, it’s a much better idea to rotate the cutting board or item that you’re cutting rather than changing the direction of your knife use.
20. Be a people person
When using a knife, always be mindful of those around you – as a rule of thumb, try to ensure that nobody is within arm’s length of you while cutting.
21. A holding pattern
Install knife holders on work surfaces and tables to keep knives safe when not in use.
22. Full focus
Always avoid distractions when using a knife. If you need to speak with somebody or attend to a different task, place the knife down on a flat surface away from the edges before proceeding.
23. Stay alert
Try to avoid knife use when fatigued as this can cause you to lose focus and therefore lead to preventable accidents.
Knife Safety Tips While Handling The Sharp End
Keeping your knives sharp will improve effectiveness and safety as well as extending the lifetime of the tool:
24. Look sharp
Always use a professional knife sharpener designed specifically for the knife that you are using. Different knives are designed for different kinds of cutting and it’s vital that you use the right tool for the job in order to prevent accidents.
25. Make a point
When sharpening your blade, always work away from your body in order to avoid accidents.
26. A safe pair of hands
Always keep hands away from the blade of your knife when sharpening. Practice holding your knife correctly before attempting to cut and pay heed to the manufacturer’s instructions.
27. An experienced edge
Never allow an inexperienced person to sharpen a knife. Always ensure that personnel have received adequate training before sharpening.
28. A close shave
Always remove shavings immediately and dispose of them responsibly. Steel shavings can lead to painful cuts if not disposed of properly.
29. Stay sharp
Where necessary, warn others that a knife has been newly sharpened and use a guard where possible.
Knife Safety Tips When Cleaning a Knife
Keeping your knives clean will improve their effectiveness and reduce the chance of cross-contamination. A high number of accidents occur when cleaning knives, so the following rules should always be adhered to.
30. Keep your hand in
Where possible, wear protective gloves when cleaning your knife.
31. Clean and clear
Never leave a knife in a bowl or sink full of soapy water where visibility is limited. Where possible, clean knives individually. If using a dishwasher, either place the knife flat or blade down in the utensil holder.
32. High and dry
Use a clean sponge to clean the blade and handle and dry the knife immediately after cleaning. Dry your knife using a thick kitchen towel and never place fingers directly on the cutting edge. Avoid air drying your knives as this can lead to rusting.
33. Store safely
After cleaning, store knives safely straight away. Ideally, knives should be stored in a purpose-made rack or cabinet.
Knife Safety Tips When Handling a Damaged Knife
Even great quality knives can occasionally become damaged, and common issues include broken handles, blades coming loose from the handle, and blades becoming chipped or broken.
34. Breaking point
Should a knife become damaged, you should cease using it immediately and store it away from knives which are in good working order. You should also alert other people to the fact that the knife is damaged.
35. Snapping point
Should a knife blade snap off completely, wrap the blade in several layers of protective fabric before disposing of it responsibly.
36. No quick fix
You should never attempt to repair a damaged knife yourself. Refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines for reputable repair facilities and always wrap the knife up well when transporting to a repair outlet.
While some of these guidelines may seem like common sense, you’d be surprised at how many accidents are caused by simple carelessness or distraction. Knives should always be considered to be dangerous and should be treated as such.
Celebrity chef, Gordon Ramsay, has considerable experience of using a knife and urges people to adhere to the three-finger rule when slicing – one in front (middle finger) and two behind (index finger and ring finger).
Always be mindful not to get sidelined when using a knife as it only takes a couple of seconds for an accident to happen. Always avoid distractions that may lead to a loss of focus (and possibly the loss of a finger!) when using your knife. Getting into good habits and treat your knife with respect. These are extremely simple but effective ways of preventing knife injuries.
Last update on 2023-11-30 at 21:22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.