199 – A Woodworker’s First Aid Kit

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A long overdue upgrade to the Wood Whisperer shop is a quality first aid kit. A typical first aid kit comes with a bunch of stuff we don’t really need in the wood shop, so I set out to create a first aid kit specifically for woodworkers. While there are certainly other injuries we might experience, the most common will be cuts, splinters, amputation, and debris in the eye. So the primary components of the Woodworker’s First Aid Kit will address those injuries.

In the video, you’ll see I use a nifty Wall-Mounted First Aid Box that is durable and compact. Perfect for hanging on the shop wall!

Cuts & Lacerations

Various Band-Aids – I like strong heavy duty bandages in a variety of sizes and shapes. Knuckle and finger-tip bandages are a favorite in the shop.
Butterfly Strips and Steri-Strips – Great for holding wounds closed.
Gauze Pads – For larger wounds where a bandaid just won’t do.
Gauze Roll
Tape – Holds gauze pads in place.
CA Glue – Can be used to “stitch” a wound closed.
Quick Clot – Stops bleeding fast!
Antibiotic Ointment – Applied to wounds when they can’t be cleaned thoroughly.

Splinters

Tweezerman Tweezers – Heavy-duty and very sharp tweezers for digging out nasty splinters.
Magnifying Headset – Some splinters are so small that you need magnification to see the details.

Amputation

Tourniquet – For applying pressure at amputation site.
Instant Cold Pack – To keep the amputated part cool.
Zip-Lock Bag – To transport the amputated part.

Eye Injuries

Eyewash Station – A sterile saline solution to help flush debris out of the eye.

Category: Safety

Comments

  1. Peter Durand May 1, 2013

    Here is an article in Fine WoodWorking by an MD. His wife is an ER MD who collaborated in writing the piece. I have it printed out and is in a big zip lock near the first aid kit.

    http://www.finewoodworking.com.....t-aid.aspx

  2. Bill Akins May 1, 2013

    Good safety tips. MOre than not, my first aid kit is out of band aids so I usually put a piece of paper towel over the cut and wrap it in blue tape. I’ve also used the CA glue a few times as well.

  3. Branislav May 1, 2013

    Ah,…amputations – shlamputations,…I need no stuff for such things. If those things would happen to me, I would probably faint and bleed to death before I would even manage to get to my first aid kit :) :) :)

  4. Eric R May 1, 2013

    Every single word of that is good advice.
    Going to take time today to go over my kit.

    Thanks Marc.

  5. Josh Wixom May 1, 2013

    Great advice Marc! Thanks for sharing.

  6. Mark May 1, 2013

    Excellent advice

  7. Adam May 1, 2013

    Hey, Marc. Thanks for highlighting this important aspect of woodworking. I’m sure we have all wished–at one time or another–that our first aid kits were better stocked, or we had better first aid knowledge. Unfortunately this usually happens at the “wrong” time–immediately after hurting ourselves.

    As in instructor of first aid (specifically wilderness first aid), I would like to humbly add to this already really good information…
    *First and foremost…Stop the bleeding! While this may seem obvious, bandaging a wound before the bleeding is controlled won’t provide much benefit. You would be amazed what 20 minutes of firm direct pressure and elevation will do to stop a bleed.
    *Prevent infection! Flush your wound with lots and lots of clean drinking quality water and use soap to wash around it. Use more water than you think you will need. You certianly don’t want to be dealing with a nasty infection later.
    *Promote healing! Cover and protect that thing. My favorite technique for closing small lacerations after very thorough cleaning is to bring the edges of the wound back together with those really cool Steri-Strips. Don’t be afraid to cut those suckers in half–they are usually way too long. Then, I like to cover it with a product such as OpSite Flexigrid or Tegaderm–a clear transparent waterproof, breathable dressing. This stuff is great and will have you back in the woodshop in no time.

    Let’s all stay safe so we can keep woodworking!

  8. Lance May 1, 2013

    Great video.

  9. Aaron Edwards May 1, 2013

    Fantastic stuff, essential in fact. Thanks.

  10. Emmrys May 2, 2013

    Another thing that I hope I never need is a fire extinguisher. Not exactly first aid but still a safety item. Be safe all.

  11. Paul Hopcraft May 2, 2013

    Hi Marc,

    Thanks for providing us all with this yearly reminder about safety. I would have suggested/endorsed taking a first aid class or certification from your local Red Cross or St John’s Ambulance group.

    Stay safe, and remember to wear these……..safety glasses!!!!

  12. Rob Cottle May 2, 2013

    Good T-shirt for that video..

  13. Jamie Lynch May 2, 2013

    I have the yellow angry bird tape. Is the yellow the same grade as the red bird?

  14. Martin Feeney May 2, 2013

    Excellent, first woodworker I have seen that gave basic advice on this very important subject. Well done.

  15. Marc,

    One thing to add that is in your video, but you didn’t mention it – the fire extinguisher hanging on the wall behind you. It’s a great addition to the shop. May also want to consider something for burns, if they should happen.

  16. Todd May 3, 2013

    Shirt = appropriate for this video. I watched nearly the whole thing before I caught that. Well played sir.

  17. Jerry May 3, 2013

    If I get a splinter that is to small for me to see or remove, I put a piece of tape over the spot and pull with the grain.

  18. Rufus May 3, 2013

    I also have a scalpel to slice blood blisters, since these suckers never heal properly when you leave them filled ;)
    If you manage to cut your finger(s) off I don’t know if it is a good idea to just throw it in a bag with this icy thing.
    A helicopter paramedic once told me that it is the best thing to wash it, put it in a bag, wrap a towel or something around it and then put the whole thing in a bag with ice or equivalent stuff.
    And get your ass to the ER as fast as you can.
    Time is very critical here.
    However, it’s not a good idea to drive a car at this stage unless you really have to ;)
    Sometimes, after your mind realizes what your body already knows, you can faint or something.
    Also, there are a lot opinions on whether using a tourniquet or not – in some cases you make things worse.
    Asking a paramedic on that issues is the best way to go, these guys have seen more accidents than anyone else.
    Anyway, I think everyone who works with “dangerous” machines should gain as much knowledge as possible on how to proceed if anything goes wrong.
    All the first aid stuff is worthless if you don’t know when and how to use it, as well if you don’t understand some basic emergency body functions.
    Some people stay very calm, others black out.

    However, knowing your own skills and limits helps preventing most of the accidents.
    I never turn on a machine when I’m tired or when I’m distracted by something, even if I’m wearing an iron man plaster from a previous injury.

    Take care.

    • Hank May 3, 2013

      Good choices for the first aid kit. When I’m not in the shop, I am an ER doc. You are correct that the best cleaning agent for a cut is tap water. There are several studies comparing it to sterile saline and it is equally effective( cheaper, tastes great, always available). Don’t use peroxide or alcohol on the cut, it is toxic to the tissues. You mentioned scabs, they are not good. Keeping a wound covered and moist (antibiotic ointment is a good choice for this) allows the healing cells to migrate across the wound and better repair it. I have seen many power tool injuries in my 25 years as an ER doc. Interestingly enough, I haven’ seen one from a chop saw yet. The worst injury (aside from a chain saw) was actually on a jointer. No push stick, all fingers sucked into spinning cutter, nothing to salvage! I really thank you for your constant emphasis on safety. Most of the injuries I have treated would not have occurred if guards were left in place and good technique was used.

  19. Marc,
    having practiced primary care medicine for nearly 38 years, and woodworking off & on for even longer, I wish to thank you for your service to woodworking safety by providing a well thought out, relatively inexpensive, yet reasonably complete basicT first aid kit for the workshop. It is rare that I have seen a commercial first aid kit that didn’t have all sorts of junk in it that really wasn’t useful, and not enough of what would be the most common injuries for its intended purpose. You did a great job of picking appropriate tools and supplies.

    Happy Safety Day

  20. Steve Colvin May 4, 2013

    Can anyone recommend a good first aid book that will cover woodworking injuries?

  21. Trevor Hillman May 4, 2013

    One thing that I would like to add is to check your expiration dates, as a pharmacist I think it is something that is often overlooked. So on safety day check your first aid kit for expired items and replace.

  22. jHop May 7, 2013

    When I posted to the WTO version of this request, I commented that I thought a “quick call” button was essential.

    I still firmly believe that.

    Not everything we do needs someone on standby if something goes wrong. But if you know that you will be running the bandsaw tomorrow, for example, letting someone know your rough schedule is absolutely a great idea.

    For example, my step-father-in-law works on metal for a day job and a hobby. When he’s working in the garage, he’s said to my mother-in-law that if there’s fire in the shop, don’t stop for him, just get to the street before calling 911. (All those full tanks and stuff.) He’s also had need of an extra pair of hands when something goes wrong. Having someone he can call for help has saved his hands twice to my knowledge, and possibly more than that.

    I’m not saying you need some form of “panic button” alarm. But having someone nearby who knows how to use the first aid kit and a telephone is always a good addition.

  23. John Verreault (aka Johnny Vee) June 2, 2014

    Marc,
    I just re-watched this episode and was wondering if you ever put up that eye-wash station you mention d? Given that you have running water available in the shop, a retro fitted, permanent eye-wash station plumbed in at your “slop sink” area might be an upgrade worth looking at…hey, you only have one pair of eyes.

    Take care,

    John

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