The kitchen isn’t for the faint of heart. There are scads of ways to injure oneself while trying to create culinary masterpieces and thus I give you Lesson Two in Surviving Living Alone (see the first lesson here). As someone who enjoys cooking overly complex dishes to take to family events, I took things to the next level in terms of kitchen mishaps when I received a mandoline slicer.
A mandoline is a kitchen utensil used for slicing and cutting. It is made up of two parallel, ridiculously sharp blades – – one of which can be adjusted in height so that you can vary the thickness of cut. Search the interwebz for information on the mandoline and you’ll learn to maintain a healthy level of respect for the tool or pay the price. Mandolines help you slice things extra fine and extra fast and if you don’t pay attention, you can seriously injure yourself.
This past spring I took charge of planning my family’s Easter dinner menu, I divvied up the dishes between me and my sister and decided this was a fantastic time to break in my new mandoline to make broccoli salad. The instructions on the mandoline are very explicit – – always use the protective finger guard to guide the item you’re slicing against the blades. However, the guard proved unwieldy when it came to slicing broccoli, so I decided to just try to be extra careful; this was a big mistake. Unfortunately, when I realized I was running late, I started slicing more quickly until I sliced off a small part of my fingertip.
So what do you do when you’re in the midst of cooking alone and you’ve accidentally cut yourself? If you’re me, you jump up and down shrieking until you remember that you’re the only human in the house and as awesome as your dog is, he can’t help you in this situation. What you do next depends on the severity of the cut.
With any cut the goal is to stop all the blood from leaking out of your body and into the dish you are preparing for your family. I first rinsed the cut in cold water while loudly trying out a variety of four-letter words. I then grabbed a paper towel, wrapped my finger in it and held my hand over my head. I found the tiny bit of fingertip still on the mandoline, managed not to vomit, and determined it was too small to be necessary or possible to have reattached.
Deciding it was critical to finish the dish and get to my parents’ house ASAP, I finished the dish one-handed, taped the paper towel around my finger and headed out the door. I had no first aid supplies at my house – – a big no-no for any home not just a singleton’s casa – – but when I got to my parent’s house, my sister applied a little petroleum jelly around the wound and put a real bandage on it. Unfortunately I am bizarrely allergic to over-the-counter antibiotic ointment otherwise many first aid websites recommend applying some of that before putting on the bandage. Thankfully I knew enough to keep the wound clean, covered and compressed until the bleeding had completely stopped. If you cut yourself and the wound won’t close or your cut is too deep, see a doctor post haste. Cuts can get infected easily and you don’t want to mess around with that.
Afterward, I checked a few websites like WebMD and miraculously I had done the right thing for dealing with a cut: clean wound with water (not with hydrogen peroxide or alcohol), apply pressure and raise the injured area above your heart to stop the bleeding. I survived, my fingertip bit grew back and I looked so sad that my family actually ate and pretended to enjoy the broccoli salad. I vowed to make simpler dishes and pay strict attention to what I was doing, when I was doing it in the kitchen (which I will almost certainly forget when the next holiday rolls around).
Sources: CNN, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, WebMD