The knife is a highly versatile tool and your mastery of it is an indispensable skill for survival situations. A knife could be used for a myriad of things in the great outdoors, so in this topic we are going to teach you some basic knife safety skills to prevent accidents from happening to you and others.
For starters you need to be aware that most knives have two critical parts, which are the sharp razor’s edge and the point. Rule number one keep all the sharp edges and the point, away from you and other people. Never point a knife at anyone, nor engage in horseplay when holding a knife. Following this rule at all times will ensure that you avoid accidentally cutting or stabbing yourself and others.
Although some activities may seem easier with the knife’s edge pointing at you, having a puncture wound or a laceration in a survival situation is something that you just don’t want to happen, so better not to risk it for the sake of convenience.
Now lets talk about some basic knife skills. If you need to cut, let’s say a piece of string, your natural tendency would be to cut near your body as you can generate more force by keeping the blade near you. This is generally fine, but following rule number one, always cut away from your body (this makes sense doesn't it?). Another common mistake is cutting with any part of your finger, (particularly the thumb) parallel to the blade. For example, a lot of people would try to cut a twig or a branch using the thumb for leverage, now if the knife suddenly cuts through that twig or branch, the thumb gets cut with the blade. In this situation, always remember to position any part of your hands or fingers offset and not directly parallel to the blade itself. Another situation is when people need to cut, sharpen, or shave a branch. Again following rule number one, always cut or shave away from you. For added strength, you can put your finger on the back edge of the blade for extra power.
Some other safety considerations to be remembered, is never leave your knife lying under any circumstances It is much better to ensure your knife is sheathed when not in use to prevent accidents from happening. This also ensures that you do not lose your knife. Losing a knife in the wilderness could very well be a critical mistake.
Last but not the least, if ever you are with somebody or are in a group, make sure that no one is near you if you ever have to use the knife. Should you ever use the knife, it is important to let everyone know that you will be using your knife or any bladed implement for that matter. These are just a few reminders on basic knife safety and usage. Following these tips will go a long way in preventing accidents from happening to your or to others. Remember, an accident in the wilderness is something you should always do your best to avoid.
Craig Caudill is a wilderness survival instructor and regular contributor to Dan's Depot.