The famous "Saturday Night Live" sketch in which TV chef Julia Child, played by Dan Aykroyd, slices through her thumb during a cooking show may be classic comedy to some. However, kitchen knife injuries are no laughing matter to either professional or amateur chefs.
But such injuries can be avoided with care in purchasing, maintaining and using knives, according to one local professional chef and cooking instructor.
"Knives are very personal, and the user needs to feel comfortable with the knife they choose," said Denise Perry, culinary instructor at Lincoln Land Community College. "A knife is supposed to be an extension of your hand.
"I really suggest that the person go to a kitchen store and physically try the knife in their hand."
Perry has taught off-site classes specifically devoted to knife skills. The classes include tips on how to avoid accidentally cutting oneself with kitchen knives, as well as what types of knives are best for different tasks. Keeping knives sharp prevents injury because a dull knife is more likely to slip or become difficult to handle.
"A sharp knife is a safe knife," Perry said. "Always keep your knives sharpened and maintained."
She added that using the right knife for the task at hand also helps prevent injury.
Generally, carving or slicing knives are intended for cutting meat, serrated knives for cutting bread and paring knives for peeling fruit and vegetables, removing seeds and other close-up, intricate tasks. Specialized slicing tools are also available for items such as bagels and cheese that are difficult to slice with regular knives.
Knife safety tips
Denise Perry, a culinary instructor at Lincoln Land Community College, offers these tips for preventing knife injuries:
When a knife accident does happen, the National Institutes of Health offer the following first aid tips at their MedlinePlus website.
Call 911 or have someone take you to the emergency room if:
To treat a minor cut at home, follow these steps: