Basic knife safety tips for both the outdoors and indoors

Knives can be a source of entertainment, income, protection, survival tool and much more.

However, there’s no going around the fact that knives can be very dangerous and must be handled with care at all times.

While many people think that using a knife is very straightforward, there are many tips that can greatly enhance the safety of the user and everyone around them.

If you’re an outdoor lover, it’s even more vital to pay close attention to how you use this tool to lessen the chances of life threatening incidents.

In this article you’ll be informed on the very basics of handling a knife as a tool, not a weapon, to minimize injury. So if you’re ready, let’s get into it.


1. Treat every knife like it’s sharp

One of the most important tips in knife safety, is to handle your knife as you would handle a loaded firearm. A sharp knife is as dangerous as a loaded gun.

A deep cut in the wrong place can be life threatening…Treating knives like they are always sharp is always a great habit to develop. 

You especially want to take extra care when you’re handed a knife, or when handing it to someone. 

This will minimize the chances of accidents.


2. Knives are not toys

This should be obvious, but dealing with knives we learn that nothing is too obvious that doesn’t need to be remembered every now and then. 

Knives are not toys, and should not be played with as such. This must be crystal clear to everyone handling a knife. They are either weapons or tools used for carving, cutting something, skinning an animal and should not be a substitute hammer or screwdriver. 


3. Keep your knife healthy

If you want a good knife to last, you must take the appropriate steps. It’s different than keeping your knife sharp… it’s about overall health. 

Make sure there are no cracks, no rust, no chips, either on the blade or on the holds. The same goes for the sheath. Knives or sheaths in bad shape can lead to accidents, the knife can break or require too much strength and backfire.

When there are screws and rivets, make sure everything is tightly secured in its proper place.


4. Keep it safe

Always keep your knives in the sheath. If it’s a folding knife, keep it closed. Never leave it open with the blade laying around. 

You also do not want to ever leave your knives jabbed in wooden surfaces, especially in benches or chairs where people can sit. This is a major accident cause. 


5. Mind the blood circle

Whenever you’re handling your knives, both you and other people should be kept away from the “blood circle”, which is the reach of the blade and your extended arm length.


To test this, with an extended arm and the handle of your knife facing forward (blade should be facing you), make a slow 360 turn and that is your blood circle, no one should be in that circle or too close.

This should be practiced especially when you have kids around! Pay extra attention, it’s your responsibility as they don’t always know what they’re doing and the dangers of their actions.


Kids are amazing, but they do extra crazy stuff when dealing with knives and other tools. Teach them with a stick so they understand the reach of their knife, you also want to add a little more distance for added protection... this way you can help them create a buffer zone for themselves and others.


6. Respect the blood circle

Make sure that everybody who’s around someone dealing with a knife respects the blood circle. If it’s someone else dealing with a knife, you shouldn’t enter their blood circle at all.

Don’t walk right upon them when they’re carving or using their knives because that’s how accidents happen.


7. Cut away from the body

Never make cutting  motions with the blade directly towards your body. Sometimes it feels a lot easier to have your knife towards your body… but don’t, the blade should always me moving away from your body, in a motion that goes from inside out.

If you apply strength with the blade aimed at you, and the blade escapes, you’re probably not going to be quick enough to stop your own hand and will end up severely hurting yourself.

Don’t ever hold the object you’re cutting against any body part of yours (or others). Always hold it against a strong object, like a tree. 

Try to use something that will make the knife stop. Rocks are not good for that as they can shatter or slip.


8. Do not catch a falling knife.

There’s no point trying to catch a falling knife! Let it hit the ground. It’s obviously not the greatest idea to try and catch a falling knife, as you might get yourself injured. Grabbing a super sharp knife in mid air is a deep laceration waiting to happen. 


9. Do not carve on a stone

Whenever you’re carving a piece of wood, make sure it’s against another piece of wood.

Don’t use stones or rocks. It should be soft, or it will chip or damage your blade, and a damaged blade is always more dangerous than a healthy one.


10. Hand safely

Always hand your knives safely to other people. Don’t throw them, don’t give them unsheathed, handle first and hands on the sheath. Even in practice mode.

On the occasions you’re forced to handle the knife unsheathed, make sure the blade is away from your hand and when handing it to someone, the handle should be facing them with the dull area of the knife resting between your thumb and index finger. Once they have hold of the knife, let it go.


11. Always pay attention

It is very easy to get distracted, especially when you become too complacent or overconfident. 

Having practice with knives does not make them less dangerous. Actually, it’s the opposite: the more comfortable you get, the more dangerous. Even if you know first aid, if any accident happens, especially if you realize you may need a few stitches… go to the hospital as fast as possible.


12. Keep your knives sharp

Dull knives are more dangerous than sharp knives. This happens because when using a dull knife, you'll need to put more time and energy into using it… and at some point you may have a slip up. 

This can break your knife, your work or even your skin. If somehow you can’t sharpen your knife, it’s time to get yourself a new one. 


13. Do not fight with notches

If you’re carving wood and there is a notch, go around it. Don’t fight with it, let it be.

If you can’t work around it, find another piece.

Many people harm themselves working through a notch, as the knife goes wild easily since there is too much strength involved. You can get hyped up about it and start using unsafe motions, towards your body or someone else’s.

Or worse, the knife can go flying out of your hand! So you do not ever want to fight with wooden notches. There are probably tons of branches in the forest around you that you can choose from.


14. Extra care when sheathing knives in a belt

Many people forget that when they’re sheathing the knife into a belt, there are big chances that they can injure themselves.

Don’t try to be cool by not looking at what you’re doing. While some people may be able to do this, it is still advised for you to look especially if you’re not very familiar with the knife or sheath. 

Now that you’re aware of some of these safety tips, make sure they are apart of your daily practices, and try your best to make other people more conscious and knowledgeable about them too. 

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