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Teaching Kids About Knife Safety

Few kids forget their first pocket knife. Whether they're shaving down kindling, opening a bottle or sharpening a stick to roast a hot dog, the pocket knife is an indispensable camping accessory for any young Boy Scout.  The adage is that every man should have a pocket knife, but teaching kids how to safely use pocket knives can be tricky.  Here are some tips.

a child using a pocket knife

Pocket Knife Preparation

How old should your child be to use a pocket knife? Unfortunately, there's no perfect answer to this question, as maturity, not age, is the most important factor when deciding if a child is ready to use a pocket knife.  A good rule of thumb is to monitor how your child operates with similar tools.  Try giving your son or daughter a butter knife or a dull pair of scissors to test whether or not they can use the tool correctly and listen to your instructions.   This way you can gauge their readiness level without any consequences.

Respect Pocket Knives

A knife can be a dangerous tool and it's important to communicate this to your children.  Make sure that they understand that a pocket knife is capable of causing them serious harm if it is mishandled. Don't scare them too much, but make sure they respect and comprehend the power that a knife has.

Pocket Knife Grip

The first instruction you should give your child regarding pocket knives is how to use the appropriate grip.  Instruct your kids to always hold the blade firmly and make cutting or slicing motions away from the body.  Also, discourage them from cutting anything that they are holding in their other hand, as this can lead to injury.

Walking with a Pocket Knife

If you've already talked to your children about how to properly hold scissors, the same strategy applies to knives.  A knife should always be held away from the body and should never be held when running. If you have a folding pocket knife, instruct your child to fold the knife after every use in order to reduce the risk of injury.

Knife Sharpening

There is a common myth that sharp knives are more dangerous than dull knives; for the most part, this isn't true.  Dull knives often pose far greater risks, because they require more effort to cut.  Make sure you communicate this to your kids.

If they are using a knife for the first time, it's too early to overwhelm them by instructions on how to sharpen their knife.  However, tell them that if they feel their knife is becoming dull, it's important to show it to an adult who can use a knife sharpener to sharpen it.

Pocket Knife Cleaning and Storing

Just like their favorite toy, it's crucial that children learn that a knife is a tool that must be properly cared for.  If you give your child a folding pocket knife, you should give them a sheath or container to store it in.  By doing so, you can train them to be mindful of taking care of their knife.

Also, stress to your child the importance of not leaving a knife exposed to elements, like the rain, which can cause their knife to rust.

The Bottom Line for Kids and Pocket Knives

A pocket knife is a coming-of-age symbol for every camper. When it's time to give your son or daughter their first pocket knife, makes sure you also give them the wisdom that will help them become responsible knife owners.

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