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No one is immune to injury in the kitchen. Cuts and burns especially are common and can be severe. I love cooking with kids and I feel that it's my responsibility to be prepared for potential accidents. Accidents happen in professional kitchens too, and dinner service doesn't stop because the chef cut himself. To be prepared, what items should be found in every kitchen?

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I got a restaurant-themed first aid kit from Costco that contains basics (bandaids, gauze, cleaning stuff, pain relief, creams, booklet, equipment, etc.) but by far the only things that are actually used are blue bandaids (for visibility, and they're metal detectable too), neosporin, and finger cots/gloves. Cuts are probably the #1 injury by far, and if my employees get burned it's pretty much just cold water and gauze or doctor/911 time - no need for the burn cream that comes in those kits that you're not even supposed to use. –  janeylicious Nov 2 '13 at 6:40
    
Finger cots/gloves are a big one. Sure, every professional kitchen has them, but not necessarily home kitchens. They're important not only to keep blood out of the food, but to keep salt and hot pepper juice out of the cut. They keep bandages dry too. –  Jolenealaska Nov 2 '13 at 12:43
    
I guess I'm too used to my home kitchen where I have disposable gloves for cleaning and peppers (after many painful lessons!) :) The blue bandaids are worth mentioning though. If you can't find them specifically, basically anything but clear/flesh colored is a must. I've lost bandaids while working with dough at home and similar situations - metal detectable is nice and fancy for big scale but blue, the blue really sticks out right at you in many cases. Finger cots also come in high visibility colors too. I prefer gloves since it's a hell of a lot harder to lose by accident. –  janeylicious Nov 3 '13 at 0:09
    
Maybe someone can also add information on what one should have read on using the first aid supplies. –  papin Nov 3 '13 at 20:17
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4 Answers

The most important things in cooking first aid kits to me are liquid skin, vitamin C powder, and cortisone cream. Obviously antiseptic and bandages are important too, but I assume those are standard.

Liquid skin (basically clear nail polish) is antiseptic and helps to seal up cuts so they stop bleeding faster. It also helps to prevent the effect that any kitchen worker will recognize where an otherwise insignificant cut keeps getting reopened and filling your gloves with blood.

The vitamin C powder is a miracle for burns. You put a pinch in some cold water and rinse the burn with it. It's very soothing and seems to help them heal faster.

Cortisone cream is primarily a bakery thing. Prolonged skin exposure to flour frequently causes rashes and cortisone cream helps to relieve the itching and get the rashes to go away faster.

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I knew there was a good reason for this question! I'd never heard of the vitamin C thing, but since I burn myself on a fairly regular basis, I'm sure I'll have the opportunity to try it out soon. –  Jolenealaska Nov 2 '13 at 22:57
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Equipment isn't really as important as knowing how to use it. Many hiker medics travel with nothing but a half roll of duct tape, gauze, and a couple of salves. Stuff like finger bandages and colored band-aids are really just conveniences more than essentials. In a kitchen you have many of the things you need already without buying anything: running water to cool burns and clean cuts, towels to soak up blood, knives and scissors for cutting gauze, etc.

That being said, conveniences can make things much simpler and easier: it's far faster to get a band-aid than fashion one from medical tape and gauze. So bandages of different shapes are certainly very helpful. Medicated creams or ointments to fight infection on cuts are good. Iodine and medical alcohol also fight infections. Burn creams are generally counter productive, if it's bad enough you need professional help. One of the best things you can have doesn't come in a tube, it's an aloe plant - the best thing for mild burns is first to put under cold water to cool the skin and then apply fresh aloe.

But my first statement is the most important one, the best thing you can do is learn some basics.

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Adhesive bandages are also easier to apply one-handed. I don't mind fashioning my own bandages on other parts of the body, but most of my kitchen related injuries are on the hand or arm. –  Joe Nov 2 '13 at 20:30
    
And as one of the people that never buys fingertip bandages -- you can typically place a bandage over the front & back of the finger (stick it on the front, then flex your finger and attach the back), then wrap either tape or another bandage around the tip to keep it from slipping. –  Joe Nov 2 '13 at 20:33
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Besides the cuts and burns, the other thing that I've made the mistake of a few too many times are not washing my hands immediately or well enough after cutting up hot peppers. (and if you then cut up onions and you wipe the side of your face when you tear up ... and manage to get it in your eyes).

I've done it enough times that I'm surprised that I don't keep an eye-wash bottle in my kitchen ... but I learned a trick from my cousin -- bottled water.

Take the cap off the bottle, then look down and bring the bottle up to your eye ... then squeeze the bottle slightly. You'll want to do this over a sink, as it'll make a mess. It won't have the saline that's in an eyewash, but it'll work in a pinch.

There's another trick that you can use, but it's risky as you've already got at least one potentially unsafe hand. Grab your upper eyeslashes and pull your upper eyelid over the lower one. It'll cause your eye to start producing extra tears. (I also use this when I've gotten something in my eye)

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Good point. That hurts like an SOB. –  Jolenealaska Nov 2 '13 at 21:16
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My first-aid kit for burns is an aloe plant. The gel in the leaves really does relieve the pain. And the burn does heal faster. The plant also looks good in the kitchen. The aloe that you find in lotions has been processed so much, that it loses its healing properties.

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I'm pretty dubious of the claim that aloe in lotions is ineffective because it's "processed". More likely, the aloe just doesn't make up a very large fraction of the lotion - it's a lotion, not aloe goop. (Also, aloe itself may not be that effective a treatment. Results in studies have generally been a bit mixed.) –  Jefromi Nov 2 '13 at 22:57
    
I don't think aloe is a "first aid" thing though - it's more of a thing you can choose to put on after initial treatment (which is typically either cold water or call your local emergency #). –  janeylicious Nov 3 '13 at 0:00
    
@Jefromi : it might just be a placebo, or it might just be evaporative cooling, but fresh aloe has always helped me with minor burns (particularly sunburn) ... I can't say I've ever tried it on second-degree or worse burn. And I've never tried any of the lotions (don't need to, when you have the aloe plant) –  Joe Nov 3 '13 at 0:06
    
@Joe The point was mostly just that if it does really work (not just placebo) but only works okay, on minor burns, then if you dilute it a lot, it might not do much at all. Of course, if it's indeed evaporative cooling (and some placebo) that'd also explain it. –  Jefromi Nov 3 '13 at 0:16
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