As much as we try to avoid them, accidents happen. Itís easy to laugh off the possibility of serious accidents in the wood shop, boasting that your first aid kit is just a roll of duct tape and some paper towels. If something does go wrong in your shop, though, itís important to have the means at hand to take care of any injuries that might occur. Safety is no accident and a big part of safety is being prepared for just about anything.
This means getting a well-stocked first aid kit if you donít already have one. While a general off-the-shelf first aid kit is a good starting point, there are some situations that can arise in a busy wood shop that require emergency-level care. Here are a few additional items to include in a first aid kit Ė just in case you need them.
Almost any pre-packed first aid kit is going to contain several types of adhesive bandages; thereís a good reason for that. Youíre more likely to need a Band-Aid than just about anything else in your kit Ė but they arenít the only bandages to have on hand. Fingertip and knuckle bandages, butterfly bandages, gauze pads and both gauze and non-adhesive bandage wraps are also very useful in the shop. Add in some medical tape to help hold gauze bandages in place.
Iodine solutions and antibiotic first aid creams are very useful in case of cuts, scrapes and splinters. A bottle of rubbing alcohol is also useful, even if you have the other disinfectants in your kit. While weíre on the subject of germs, disposable gloves are also an important addition.
Scissors and a decent-quality knife are both important tools to have in your first aid kit. Tweezers are also a must, since splinters are a major issue in wood shops; you also might consider keeping a pill bottle or other small container holding needles in rubbing alcohol to aid in splinter removal. A small hand mirror can be useful in case you need to inspect your eye, face or other hard-to-see area.
Eyes and Lungs
There are a lot of materials in a wood shop capable of irritating your eyes and lungs. Having a first aid kit equipped to deal with these problems is essential. Keep an in-date eye wash solution in your kit, especially if you donít have running water in your shop. If you have asthma or other respiratory problems, keep a spare asthma inhaler in your kit Ė wood dusts and chemicals can trigger an asthma attack.
Bruises and Broken Bones
Broken fingers is a common injury in wood shops Ė usually caused by hammers or nail guns. Even if impacts donít break bones, they can cause really nasty bruises and plenty of pain. Cold compresses (the kind that are chemical activated, as opposed to ice packs) are useful for these types of injuries, as is a bottle of ibuprofen or aspirin (dependent on any allergies). Finger splints and similar braces can also help with impact injuries.
Bleeding and Amputation
While uncommon, major lacerations and even the amputation of fingers or other parts of the body can occur in the shop. Several sterile cloths, large enough to wrap around the thickest part of your thigh or larger, are very useful in case itís necessary to apply pressure to a bleeding wound. Coagulant powder (available over the counter) will help stop heavy bleeding. Clean plastic zip-bags are also important in case of an amputation; an amputated part must be kept iced and sterile for possible re-attachment.
Rotation and Restocking
Once you have a first aid kit, itís your responsibility to keep it stocked and updated. Donít take tools out of it for non-medical uses and replace any depleted items at the earliest opportunity. Go through everything in the kit every few months, checking expiration dates and replacing outdated items. While it may seem unnecessary to keep your first aid kit so well stocked, youíll be grateful for it if you ever have need of any of these items.