Stay sharp

For safe knife handling, never forget the fundamental rules

There’s no question a knife is an indispensable tool in the outdoors. If you ignore the fundamentals of knife safety, however, this trusted ally can turn from friend to foe in a heartbeat. And years of experience can easily lull the most cautious of us into becoming complacent. So, to refresh your memory and bring knife safety back to the forefront, here are a few rules that even the best of us occasionally ignore.

#1

Never hold what you’re going to cut in the area between your groin and knees—this zone is described as the “triangle of death” for good reason. A careless slice of an artery here could easily be fatal.

#2

The “blood bubble” is the area around you extending out to the full length of your arm. When you’re using a knife, don’t allow people within this zone or they risk being accidently cut.

#3

Cut away from your body and keep all your fingers safely behind the blade.

#4

Never leave an unsecured knife lying around. If not in use, a knife should be secured in its sheath or folded in the closed position.

1
Credit: Michael Major

Always cut away from your body

#5

To prevent the blade from slipping and injuring you or someone else, use tech­niques such as the chest lever and knee brace to keep the blade stationary and draw the material you’re cutting into the blade. With the chest lever, hold your knife in a reverse grip (with the cutting edge facing inward toward the wrist) and the material you want to cut at chest level, with your hands resting against your chest and your elbows pointing down at 45 degrees. Pull the material into the cutting edge using your back muscles to power the cut. As for the knee brace, anchor the spine of the knife just below the front of your knee. Without moving the blade, pull the material into the cutting edge, keeping your pulling hand behind the knife.

#6

If you’re cold, tired, dehydrated or otherwise physically impaired, exercise extreme caution when using a knife. Just having cold hands can make controlling the blade that much more difficult and dangerous.

#7

As with firearms, never use a knife while intoxicated.