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Fear the mandoline


Katie's finger, a mandoline victim, bandaged at the Emergency Room.

Katie’s finger, a mandoline victim, bandaged at the Emergency Room.

Every Fourth of July you hear parents warn their kids not to play with fireworks. “You’ll lose a finger,” they say, similar to adults warning Ralphie about losing his eye playing with a B.B. gun in A Christmas Story.

But every year more than 9,000 children and adults are injured in a fireworks accident, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

A mandolin, the good kind.

A mandolin, the good kind.

In our home, it wasn’t fireworks that almost cost my daughter Katie her finger this Fourth of July weekend.

It was a mandoline.

Not a “mandolin,” the lute-like stringed instrument.

She cut her finger badly while using a mandoline vegetable slicer. The cut was so bad, it required a trip to the Emergency Room at Danbury Hospital. Fortunately she didn’t lose her whole finger. Just part of it.

Home from Boston for a holiday visit, Katie wanted to make a special layered vegetable dish for dinner Saturday night. It required several layers of thinly-sliced eggplant, zucchini and tomatoes.

OXO Good Grips Mandoline Slicer

OXO Good Grips Mandoline Slicer

While shopping, we discussed buying a mandoline food slicer to make the job easier. At the local Bed, Bath & Beyond store we came across several styles of mandolines, ranging from $20 – $100. I recalled that America’s Test Kitchen had rated the OXO Good Grips mandoline very highly, and at $39.95 the price was reasonable so I bought it.

At home, Katie was eager to try out the mandoline, and I warned her to use the safety guide that came with it, which she did. But to get a better grip on a tall piece of zucchini, she held the vegetable at its base and with one fell swish across the mandoline, she cut off a small tip of her finger, along the side of her fingernail.

There was screaming. And there was blood, lots of blood.

She initially refused my suggestion that we go to the hospital. But after 20 minutes the bleeding wouldn’t stop, so off we went. We  were in the Emergency Room for about two hours. She was seen by an ER specialist, who said there was no need for stitches because there was “nothing left to stitch.”

After cleaning the cut, which never stopped bleeding while we were waiting, the specialist put a type of thick steri-strip on it to stop the blood flow, wrapped it tightly in gauze, and then put a metal finger protective guard on it. He said to keep it like that for a day and then change it out. Only time and pressure will heal the cut. He said it would grow back within a few weeks.

Basily kitchen gloves. Ordered!

Basily kitchen gloves. Ordered!

When we got home, I found the finger tip. It was lying on the counter. Yes, gross.

There was definitely a big lesson learned this Fourth of July.

— Respect the mandoline. NEVER, and I mean NEVER, put your fingers anywhere near the blade.

That said, I am buying a pair of kevlar-like safety gloves before using the mandoline again. No amount of perfectly sliced vegetables is worth the nasty fireworks that can go with it.

Glove-info

 

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24 thoughts on “Fear the mandoline

  1. I had a similar less severe encounter with a mandoline. I promptly gave mine away to someone who can use it better than me. Glad she is on the mend. The gloves are a great idea.

  2. Pingback: Norpro Mandoline Slicer Grater with Guard - Quick & Fit

  3. gina c on said:

    I just cut off the tip of my finger off using this lovely kitchen tool. It was very gross and I am in my third day of recovering. I think I will stick to shredding my veggies or doing it the old fashion way…a knife

  4. Sorry for your accident… The same thing happened to me just a few days ago. May I ask you, did the steri-strip eventually go off? Mine seems glued to the wound and I’m wondering when it will come off. And also, how long did it take for the skin and nail to regrow and does the finger look like before now? Thanks so much!

  5. This same exact thing JUST happened to me two days ago! Thank you for posting, it made me feel so much better. I didn’t go to the ER bc I thought there would be nothing for them to stitch either, so I cleaned and bandaged it in a similar way.

  6. I did the same thing two weeks ago and they put surgicel on the open end of my finger. But now (2 full weeks later) the surgicel is still integrated in the wound and nothing is changing. How long did it take for the finger to heal?

    • It took months for my daughter’s finger to heal. To this day she says she still doesn’t have all the feeling back. That mandoline did permanent damage. Will never use one again. I hope your recovery Lara is much better.

  7. Crud, i just did this tonight but got the side of my middle finger near the nail…. it’s about 2cm by 2cm and won’t stop bleeding. It’s not gushing, but I’ve had pressure on it and ice… still seeping blood. Guess I should go to the ER.

  8. I did this to my pinky finger yesterday. It was not the tip of the finger but the side of it. A piece about an inch or so long and maybe half an inch wide. It took about 2 hours to get the bleeding until control. I was using the guard but the cucumber I was slicing got stuck and slice … went my finger. The doctor at the hospital says that they have people with “Mandoline injuries” once a week. Not mandolin injuries 🙂 Once a week sounds too high to me. Guards need to be built into the product especially when they cause long term damage.

  9. This just happened to me yesterday. They wrapped it up exactly like you have pictured and said to let it heal on its own. I threw the thing out because seriously.. it shouldn’t be that easy to get so seriously hurt. It should come with gloves like that.

    • I am so sorry to hear how many people are getting seriously cut from these products. They seem helpful but are SO dangerous. I hope your finger heals. To this day, my daughter still doesn’t have all the feeling back.

  10. denise on said:

    i am a victim too! my pinky….the fitst feeling is shock, then disbeleif, then pain, then aggravation bc u have to stop preparing dinner, throw your food out bc its bloody and the tip is in there somewhere…zuchini is not afaptable to using the guard….my dad and guests had to help finish holiday dinner and i got out of dishes!…. i found the skin… small like a nail clipping but wow so much blood… water, then pressure with gauze and finally stopped bleeding after ten mins! im so annoyed, right hand comprimised

  11. This weekend I did the same thing to my ring finger trying to slice radishes. It really hurts! I can’t believe how common this injury is. After about 2 hours, I was finally able to stop the bleeding with a powder called WoundSeal, but I wonder how long it’s going to take to heal. The posts I’ve found say it will remain “tender” for a while, but I wouldn’t describe this as tender so much as ready to sear like fire at the slightest touch. Ouch. Careful slicing, everyone!

    • Ouch! Hope all goes well with you Erin. It may take a long time to heal. The mandoline reminds me of the Cornballer on Arrested Development that burned anyone who came in contact with it. At first though, the mandoline doesn’t seem so inherently dangerous but it is. And the guide gripper that comes with it for safety is pretty useless because it doesn’t hold vegetables well for slicing. Someone needs to invent a mandoline that is useful and actually safe.

  12. Christopherjames on said:

    I thought I was safe using my mandoline without the guard for the initial few slices of some large potatoes. I took care to keep my finger tips raised but allowed my thumb to drop and managed to take a nice 45 deg slice off the tip (nail included). The mandoline was set on the thickest cut possible (6mm – typical!). I’ve suffered some tissue loss and will always be left with a wonky looking thumb. I’m told the wound (being deeper than the dermiss) will scar rather than recover with a proper skin covering(?). Not sure whether I’ll have quite the same sensitivity of touch in the thumb in the future.

    I only have myself to blame. Don’t make the same mistake. Use the guard!

    PS Never did find the bit I sliced off!

  13. Alexis on said:

    I, too, just experienced this! I was slicing zucchini and sliced off a good chunk of the left tip of my pinky finger. It is so painful! I am debating whether or not to go to an Emergency Clinic to have it checked out…I did it last night, it took about two hours to stop bleeding, then I bandaged it. Every time I re-bandage it, it starts to bleed again. Not terribly. but it’s still messy. I don’t think it can be stitched, does anyone have any recommendations on care? Thanks so much!

  14. Meagen J Fischer on said:

    I just did the same thing tonight trying to make supper. We bought a mandolin weeks ago, and I’ve seen my husband use it with ease multiple times. So I thought, what the heck, I can do this. After all it was to be quicker and easier than slicing potatoes right?? WRONG!!! My potatoes wouldn’t sit right so I thought I’d slide it across a couple times to get a flat side and continue on with the handle thing. Nope, made one pass and thought, man this is awesome, I could slice a million vegetables with this bad boy. Then I slide it the second time and all the sudden I feel pain. Look down and I have blood running out like no one’s business, and it just refuses to stop. So a trip to the er, and 8 stitches later I’m home. The er doc chuckled when I told them what happened. Said I’m the 6th one this year, alast, I’m not the only one that this happens to! Nown here I sit, almost midnight, in pain lol googling this to sew that there are so many of us in the mandolin injury squad. The tool is the tool from hell, I can honestly say this was the first and the last time I will be using this freaking thing!

    • Meagen, I am so sorry to hear of your pain. I think you hit the nail on the head. A major reason for so many accidents with the mandoline is that the safety guard food holder DOES NOT work well! While manufactures make sure the blade is as deadly sharp as it can be, they have skimped on creating a proper guard/holder. It’s cheaply made and does not hold vegetables properly for slicing. It’s a HUGE defect. Watch cooking shows and you’ll see chefs and home cooks running vegetables up and down on mandolines with their bare hands, they NEVER use the guard. There are NO warnings posted on these shows saying “Don’t do this at home,” are there? Yet, using a mandoline is much more dangerous than any stunt on Jackass, which is FILLED with warnings. O.K., I just admitted I watched Jackass – maybe once or twice – just to see what it was about, don’t judge. In all seriousness, these comments are very troublesome. People are suffering terrible injuries because the manufacture hasn’t created proper protection. Somehow, we have got to get their attention. Stay tuned.

  15. Nicole on said:

    It’s a relief to see I am not the only one. I sliced the left side of my pinkie completely off from nail to first joint while trying to slice zucchini on the thickest cut. I went straight to the drs and they had to put kaltostat on it to stop the bleeding. Had it redressed yesterday and it has at least stopped actively bleeding. They put me on antibiotics just in case. I am on day 3 now of panadiene every 6 hours as my finger feels like its on fire and is that tight and hurts when I move it. Dr said I need to elevate it for the next 48hrs. Hoping the pain goes away soon. It doesn’t help that I suffer from raynauds too. Dr said it could take 3 weeks or more to heal depending on my raynauds and I will never get feeling back there. I will never use one again.

  16. Margie Hoyos on said:

    I can’t believe I did this. Slicing apples & cut a slice from my thumb. It looked like the chain saw massacre in my house. The blood was incredibly hard to stop. The urgent care doctor said there was nothing to stitch & cauterized it & gave me antibiotics. It’s so painful. I’m throwing that mandolin out tomorrow. I shudder to think that people with little kids have that in their house!

  17. I hate to there are many, many things in the kitchen to cut yourself on besides a mandiline. There are box cutters, sissers,even the paper that you cut with sissers. How about the surated edge on plastic and tin foil wrap. All these thing and more. The odds of cutting yourself during your kitchen career is probably around 99.99%. I have managed to cut myself , well let’s just say more than a few times. Pay attention you are all good. Get distracted or in a hurry and that’s when it happens. A cutting glove is a good procasion..

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