Knives are Tools, Use Them with Care and Respect


I was a Boy Scout growing up, their motto was be prepared, it still is.  I am usually prepared, even today – one thing that I used to carry back then that I still carry with me today is a knife.  A good pocketknife is the handiest thing you can have on you.  Unless, of course, you are in an airport and trying to fly somewhere, then you are just in trouble and they will confiscate your knife.

That aside, I realized the other day that I not only had one knife on me, I had three. Overly prepared, no, I have a Swiss Army Knife on my belt with 6 different blades and tools on it (very handy), a single handed knife that I can open holding it in 1 hand, the blade is serrated and can cut most anything in an emergency and finally I have a small Swiss Army Knife that is on my key chain and is handy for small things.

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I have a bunch of other knives, many are works of engineering and art with functionality thrown in.  I have large and small, military and antique and others that were gifts.  I had a beautiful Gerber Knife that had a ceramic/glass blade that never needed sharpening.  I enjoy giving knives as gifts, my nephew was old enough so I gave him a Swiss army knife, he loved it and it made him feel great knowing that he is growing up and responsible enough to have it and use it.

Knives require responsibility and should be respected.  Here are my suggestions when it comes to kids and knives:

  1. Knives should be handled responsibly by people old enough, and responsible enough to handle them properly.  That said if you don’t know how to handle a knife read these suggestions and look on line for more suggestions.  Knives can hurt you and others so you should know how to be safe when using them.
  2. Never give a child a knife until he/she is old enough to handle it and when you do make sure it is OK with the child’s parents.  Maybe until the child is familiar with the knife the child could only use it under the supervision of the parent.  Explain that if someone does get cut to let the parents know.  Tell the child to apply pressure to a cut on the way to find a parent, to stop or control the bleeding.
  3. Children need to be taught the risks and it needs to be stressed to them that they are old enough for this by their little brothers and sisters are not and some parental control and discretion is needed to avoid a catastrophe.
  4. If a child is irresponsible with a knife, take it away until they can be respectful of and trusted with this tool.  This is a tool not a toy!

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General knife handling suggestions:

  1. Knives should be kept sharp, they are made to cut things, a sharp knife makes a clean cut with less effort.  Dull knives are more dangerous because you have to work harder with them and they can slip if you loose control of the knife.  If you slip you could cut yourself and/or others.
  2. Always cut away from your self, lots of times you can turn an object you are working on around so you are cutting away from yourself.  People are going to learn this on their own – I used to cut stuff towards myself but after you have been cut a few times, especially when the knife slips and you were pulling on it hard towards you, you will learn.  Maybe a few stitches will help you learn, I hope not, just make it a habit to cut away from yourself.
  3. Always cut away from others, never cut with a knife with someone standing in front of you, you may have control but everyone slips every now and then and it would be terrible to slip and cut someone by accident.
  4. If you are handing someone a knife and it is a pocketknife either hand it to the other person closed or by you holding the blade and giving them the handle.  A kitchen knife being handed from one person to another, should always be held by the blade, and the recipient takes the handle.  In scouting we were taught that when we handed a person a knife the recipient would say “I’ve got it” that way there was no question who had it.  This way the knife did not get dropped on someone’s foot or dropped and as it does someone forgets it’s a knife and tries to catch it as it is dropping in mid-air and gets cut in the process.
  5. If you drop a knife let it go, don’t try to catch it, concentrate on getting your feet out of the way.
  6. Store knives if blocks if they are kitchen knives, sheathes if they are straight bladed knives and folded if the are pocket or folding knives.  Don’t leave knives out in the open where curious children, young infants and unsuspecting pets could get hurt on them.
  7. Don’t leave knives lying around open in boxes or places others would not expect to find them.  Don’t put kitchen knives in sinks with water concealing them – if they are in the open hopefully others will see them and not get hurt.  If you are leaving them by the sink make an announcement that they are there so others are aware.  After a knife or knives are washed put them point down in the silverware drainer and dry them first and put them away where they are safely stored.
  8. If you use knives a lot you can and should keep Band Aids in your wallet, purse for the ladies, toolbox for others and even your desk at work.  These are always handy and especially when there are knives around.
  9. If someone does get cut and you think that they may need stitches it is better to be safe than sorry.  Apply direct pressure to cuts that bleed a lot and try to stop the bleeding and then seek medical attention.  I’ve had my share of stitches and it is better to get them than not.

Knives are handy and great tools, some are beautiful, some are magnificently engineered, they make our lives easier and better.  Tasks done with them should be done with care.  Knives deserve respect!  So enjoy the things you can do with them whether it is cutting a nice piece of steak or whittling a cane or walking stick.  Feel good about opening a package with a pocketknife you had right on you or tightening a screw with the screw driver on your Swiss Army Knife’s other tools.  Teach you kids how to handle them safely through instruction and example.  Enjoy and be safe.

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