Fear the mandoline
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.
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.
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.
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.