How to avoid the most common finger-loss accidents
About 30,000 people, both kids and adults, are rushed to U.S. emergency rooms each year because they've amputated a finger. The two most common causes are from things many of us come into contact with every day: doors and power tools.
Researchers from the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC) in Atlanta said doors and power tools are responsible for the majority of finger amputations, and they occur most often to kids and to men over 55. Specifically, they conducted a study published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine that found:
- In children aged 4 and younger, three out of four finger amputations resulted from fingers that were caught, jammed or crushed in an opening or closing door.
- In men aged 55 and older, more than half of finger amputations were caused by power tools (power saws, most often).
These two age groups were found to be most at risk for these types of injuries. Other interesting facts the researchers found were:
- The finger most likely to be injured was the index or middle finger, which were injured most often by being struck by or against something, or cut or pierced by an object.
- Nearly 70 percent of finger amputations were completely severed.
- Some 55 percent of the injuries occurred in the home.
Doors and power tools are not the only risky objects in your home. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued an alert about paper shredders. CPSC received 31 reports involving finger amputations, lacerations or other injuries from paper shredders from January 2000 through December 2003. In this case, children between the ages of 14 months and 2 years were most at risk.
Jerry Garcia, the late, great Grateful Dead guitarist, had half of his right middle finger amputated during a wood-chopping axe accident when he was only 4. Other common activities that put your fingers at risk include:
- Chopping vegetables-if chopping vegetables makes you (and your fingers) nervous
- Clearing debris from a lawnmower or snowblower
- Working with machinery
- Closing windows and doors carelessly
Finger Guards are simple to install, fit just about every type of door, and will keep kids' (and adults’) fingers from getting jammed in the doors. NCIPC researchers say those who use power tools should follow all safety instructions and "use good judgment to avoid exposing their fingers to direct contact with these potentially hazardous devices."
The best way to avoid finger amputation is to keep alert and focused when working with machinery, knives or any appliance with moving or sharp parts. If you become bored or too complacent while using a potentially dangerous piece of equipment, such as a lawnmower or power tool, you'll likely be less careful and that's when accidents tend to happen. Staying mindful, using hand protection, and taking your time when using machinery are the best ways to keep your fingers (and hands and limbs) safe.