“If you cut yourself, you are going too fast or you are not focused” Sara Moulton, Executive Chef Gourmet magazine, author of Sara’s Secrets for Weeknight Meals
I don’t cut myself often. But I am in commercial kitchens regularly, I have kids (one of whom the ER docs know by name), and I spend a lot of time with knives. Accidents happen. A first aid kit and fire extinguisher should be part of every kitchen. When the inevitable does happen, I am a big fan of 3M’s Nexcare line of bandages, especially their Active and Waterproof bandages. The waterproof bandages are the only ones I’ve found capable of surviving the wet, active environment of the kitchen. Every other brand just shreds or falls off after a hand-washing or two. The Nexcare waterproof bandages stay with you and keep your cut clean and dry. That’s a good thing at home. It’s critical in a restaurant kitchen. The last thing you need is your bandage coming off when you’re elbow deep in a stock pot.
I’ve got to say, though, that I’ve found a new addition to my kit, the KytoStat bandages from HemCon. Originally developed to stop hemorrhaging and severe bleeding on the battlefield, their blood-stopping technology migrated first to hospital emergency departments but is now available to retail consumers. The bandages are made from chitosan, a natural derivative of shrimp shells. When it comes into contact with blood the bandage becomes extremely sticky, forming an adhesive, antibacterial seal over the wound. The positively charged chitosan attracts negatively charged red blood cells, causing coagulation and clotting. Bleeding stops fast. These bandages are especially useful for people on dialysis, undergoing chemotherapy, using blood thinners, taking anti-coagulants or anyone whose natural clotting ability is diminished or non-existent. For the rest of us, they are a way to rapidly and effectively stop the bleeding and seal the cut. The downside for kitchen use is that the KytoSan bandages have to be kept dry. That means a finger cot or glove. Even with that caveat, the science behind these things is amazing.
KytoStat bandages are not cheap. A four pack from Drugstore.com is $29USD, but if you need them, it’s worth it. Luckily I have not had the chance to “field test” my KytoStat bandages yet. I keep one in my kitchen first aid kit and one in my knife roll for travel. I’ll let you know if I get the chance to use one.* Full Disclaimer: My wife was Senior Executive Vice Poobah In Charge of Stuff at a company that provides marketing and public relations services to HemCon, though they were not her client. I received my samples through her. * UPDATE: HemCon has apparently renamed these HemCon Strip First Aid Pro. Yes, they are still ridiculously expensive. Yes, they are still amazing.