Bruce's Practical Skills #1: Safety : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Thanks for all the positive responses to my question about posting articles on practical skills. My first one was going to be on soldering, both for electrical and plumbing repairs. As I started drafting it, though, the sobering thought hit me that we're going to see a lot more accidents and injuries if people are forced to become self-sufficient.

Many of us, myself included, do not work at hard physical labor six or seven days a week. Many are unaware of the dangers in seemingly simple tasks. The most dangerous occupation in this country is farming, and we're all going to be more like small farmers than anything else if January brings even a 3 or a 4.

Therefore, it's worth prefacing future articles with some general observations on keeping your health intact. I'll put specific comments into the text of the articles which follow.

First, an attitude alert. Many fall into the trap of thinking that safe work habits and proper equipment take too much time, or interfere with the job. Some feel that safety equipment is for pantywaists; real men and women don't need it. Consider this, however: If you get a nasty laceration requiring stitches, or a serious burn, or a dislocated finger, there probably won't be an emergency room to run to, or an ambulance to take you there. There may not even be a doctor left in your neighborhood.

That said, here's a must-have list of protective equipment for the self-sufficient. First, safety glasses. If you get a new pair, and keep the lenses clean and free of scratches, they'll never interfere with your ability to perform a job. After getting a piece of steel wire from a wire wheel embedded in my eye almost twenty years ago, I wear them for darn near everything but taking a shower. I was lucky, no permanent damage done. But the treatment is bizarre; you can't just pluck a foreign object out of an eye with a pair of tweezers. It has to be ground out with a device resembling a dentist's drill. If you're using punches or chisels, driving nails, running a chain saw, or doing any task where an object or hazardous liquid could fly up into your face, wear 'em.

Second, good work gloves. A snug-fitting but flexible pair of leather gloves will prevent innumerable cuts, scrapes, and burns. Again, consider the consequences of a small cut which becomes infected, if you have no access to antibiotics. In the 1800's, people died of minor scrapes which subsequently developed a staph or pseudomonas infection.

Third, get a good pair of steel-toed boots or work shoes. Not only will they provide better ankle support than your designer tennies, they keep you from crushing a toe the first time you drop a log out of an armload on the way to stoke the woodstove.

Other items almost sure to be necessary include a hard hat and hearing protection. If disruptions run into a second winter, I'm going to be felling standing trees, and don't care to get my noggin cracked open by a falling limb. Ear protection takes the form of muffs or plugs; get ones that provide at least 29db attenuation. For the true doomers, there's an interesting, but expensive, variation on muffs. They incorporate an active electronic circuit which boosts faint sounds, and shuts off instantly during very loud ones. You can wear them while searching for the goblins who are about to raid your stores, and be shielded when you open fire with your 12-guage.

I'll post links to sites on first aid and self-doctoring when I cull through them and find the most useful. Meanwhile, think about keeping yourself healthy and working safely, and being able to provide your own medical care if necessary. The consequences of even a minor accident will be far more severe when you're truly on your own.

-- Bruce (, March 21, 1999


Might I also add the following. On Good Friday 1980 at 9:26 Mtn Std time I amputated my right non-dominate thumb with an Ax. Hence my moniker. I've found out most people feel they are imortal up until they screw themselves up . So as one who has been there and (done that)I feel all of us need to use the tool which is most used and least recognised.YOUR MIND. Think the job through prior to doing it. If I'd done that about 20 years ago I'd still be counting in base 10. If I'd not been holding the log while hitting it with the ax Guess what. I'd still have it.(my thumb). And after the event I think we'll need to be real thoughtful to take care of our self.Like they said on hill Street Blues,"lets be careful out there."

-- nine (, March 21, 1999.

I couldn't agree more!

Get those safety glasses folks, and wear them!

Tip for women: Make sure Hubby wears them, Mrs Davis reminds me every time (I call her the safety officer) and it's saved me at least twice that I can remember!

Bruce's advice here is as good as anything I've seen in this forum, prevention really is better than cure.

Eyeballs, 1 set per person, no refunds, no replacements.

-- Ron Davis (, March 22, 1999.

Some schmuck in our ARES group got a new call sign, like xx6ANF and was trying to figure out what the ANF was supposed to stand for. About six months later he cut off his middle finger with a skill saw.... Hence the All Nine Fingers. My suggestions:

Heavy Duty shoes, Gloves, knee pads Hard hat. Rock climbing hat (has a chin strap) Long pants, long sleeve shirts Glasses. (I've ruined several pairs unexpectedly over the years with solder splats, flying screws, bits of flying rock and wood.)

Other options: Motorcycle helmet, or bicycle helmet if you dont have anything else.

-- Beware of gollum... (, March 22, 1999.

Hello Nine,

As I write this, I have a bandage on my left "bird" finger. While tacking down the plastic on my new greenhouse today, I managed to drill the head of the screw into my finger (with my 3 year old's help).


So though I'm only temporarily part of the nine-finger brigrade, is there a party favor, or plaque that I get?


Jolly nine fingers

-- Jollyprez (, March 22, 1999.

>Other items almost sure to be necessary include a hard hat

Hard hats are great outdoors, partiularly in the rain as the water runs to the back as it has rim along the edge.

Good post though! Pratical stuff is real life. May I suggest though that you make sure your health and fitness are up to par to match the job you tackle. In a snowstorm people die more because of heart problems than the cold.

-- Brian (, March 22, 1999.

Yes Jolly, You get a medal. You have all your parts and they are not in a specimen Jar.(Mine are). All you white people think when you are not OK someone will care and help you.OK' I'm almost white, MOM is the Red one but still...But still, You need too take care of the parts you have left.

-- nine (, March 22, 1999.

How about a pair of those wire mesh gloves fishermen use? They won't stop an axe but they will (usually) stop a knife. They also give you a better grip than wet leather or plastic gloves.

-- y2kbiker (, March 22, 1999.

Excellent post. Thank you. I'll be looking forward to the next installment.

-- Kay (, March 22, 1999.

"All you white people think when you are not OK someone will care and help you."

All you mixed-race people take care of yourselves, I guess.

Some joke. How's it feel?

-- whiteperson (offended@your.remark), March 22, 1999.

Black, white or mixed....we all bleed when we do stupid things.

Besides the excellent advice on equipment and safety gear given above, may I suggest that you learn to read your own "accident time." Four pm is generally our stop time...after that, we get tired, hungry and careless. Just before lunch is another bad time...hurry up time.

If you are doing something unfamiliar and dangerous (we are currently felling 100 ft eucalyptus trees...I dunno how we let them get that big!) take the time to think everything all the way through, and consider all the contingencies.

Most of the big bad stupid stuff I've seen has been after "accident time."

Got badaides?


-- Mary (, March 22, 1999.

dust mask

-- Darlene (, March 23, 1999.

This is a good topic Bruce,

Some sort of gloves are good. Even if they are just painting gloves they will help with those *small* splinters that you can always feel, but can never seem to get out unitl you ... DIG...ouch...! Very thin, flexible leather is best. I also have a pair of mittens that pull down to leave the tips of the fingers exposed, but the rest of the hand warm.

Also, I agree, don't wear sneakers ... no! no! no! Wear work boots or at least boots.

Hard hats...definately...! (Plus take an educated guess before you cut down that tree branch: Which way do you suppose it will fall? Don't stand there...!)

Hearing protection. That would be nice, and I always wear them in the shop. But if you have to put up with some noise, it won't kill you. (Same with dust masks)

Always, always, always wear Safety Glasses. ALWAYS!

Keep your sleaves rolled up at least to your elbow. Keep your shirt tucked in and your belt tight to your pants ( one will be wearing a tie, will they...?)

Never stand directly behind the piece you are working with. Ex: table saw, mitre saw, etc., stand to the left or right, but NOT DIRECTLY BEHIND...a kicked back piece of wood (or anything) can fly into a concrete wall like it was made of straw.

Do Not use your legs for saw horses when using a da*&#* blasted skill saw ... use your brain and find something (anything!!!) that will substitute as saw horses...!!! (Better yet: Find something that will substitute for a skill saw... ;-)

Never pull the blade towards yourself, push away--push away! And while your pushing away, make sure your leg isn't ready to catch the blade when you miss what your working on and *should* hit thin air (I have the scar on my knee to remind myself of this one...)

Remember, when you are cold you will try to do things faster, therefore you will be less careful. Try not to let yourself get cold in the first place. Nothing has to be done in 5 minutes when you have 10. Blow on those hands to keep them warm. Do some jumping jacks to keep your blood moving, if you get too cold, just let it be and get back to it later.

-- Sub-Mit (, March 23, 1999.

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