Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Kitchen Basics: First Aid for a minor cut

It happens to all of us. It even happens to fancy chefs on the Food Network (ironically, it happened to a chef on the show "Chopped"). You cut your finger while slicing some veggies and all of a sudden you are bleeding and you have to act. This may or may not have recently happened at our house to a certain blog writer that may or may not be writing this post.

Here are a few steps for what you should do if you cut yourself:
  1. Remain calm. Hopefully, you don't faint at the sight of blood. If you do, you should be extra careful because you're going to need to get the bleeding to stop.
  2. Stop the bleeding. Minor cuts and scrapes will stop bleeding on their own. However, if they don't, you should apply gentle, but firm pressure to the cut with a clean cloth or bandage for 20-ish minutes and elevate it if possible (above your heart). Do not grab whatever towel you just wiped lemon juice or a salty broth up with. That will hurt like heck and you'll be saying a few choice (four-letter) words about that. Also, do not keep checking to see if the bleeding has stopped because that just prolongs the whole process. If this doesn't work, you may need to see a doctor.
  3. After you've gotten the wound to stop bleeding, clean it with clear water. Don't apply soap directly to the cut because that can really hurt. If there is something in the cut you may need to use a clean tweezers to remove whatever is in there. In my experience, the only that that was in a cut was some spices or bit of food, but that got washed away with the water.
  4. I know some people who say to apply an antibiotic right away and some people say "let the air get at it". Well, according to the Mayo Clinic, you should use some, unless of course you're allergic to it. It helps to prevent infection.
  5. Cover with a bandage (or make your husband go get you one while you stand there applying pressure to the wound). If you have to finish preparing a meal or were bleeding pretty good, you'll want to be sure and have the bandage on otherwise crud could get in the cut that you just cleaned. You also don't want to get anything in the food. Speaking of that, you may need to throw away any food that you got blood on and you should get a clean knife or whatever utensil you were using.
  6. Keep the dressing clean and dry to prevent infection.
  7. If any of these things don't work or if you have a big cut (deeper than a quarter inch or jagged, spurting blood, infected, etc), go see a doctor right away. You may need stitches or a tetanus shot.
Ways to prevent cuts in the kitchen:
  1. Pay attention to what you're doing! 
  2. Keep your knives sharp. I know this sounds counter-intuitive, but a sharp knife will slice things easier which means you won't have to apply as much pressure to the food. When you have to press down hard with a knife, you're more likely to slip.
  3. When using a grater or mandolin slicer, make sure that you have it on the right setting for the food you are using and keep your knuckles out of the way! Make sure that you are on an even surface clear of slippery substances (water, oil, juice, etc.) Also, don't try to slice things over a pan of hot food. Can you imagine cutting your self and then dropping the grater in a pan of simmering food? Yeah, ouch. 
  4. Keep a first aid kit near your kitchen for any "just in case" moments.
Be careful and cook on, Crushers!

Fun fact: before modern antiseptic/antibiotic creams like Neosporin, people sometimes used honey to clean wounds and keep infection away. It even helped clear up bee stings! Before trying this home remedy, please make sure that you aren't just smearing a honey product on your hand. If it's not real honey, you might have just spread corn syrup on a cut. Also, don't give honey to a child under the age of one because of the natural presence of botulinum endosphores. 

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