Except for our eyes, our hands are probably our most valuable possession. We use our hands for so many different things it’s almost impossible to think how we could manage without them. As an experiment, try not using your hands for an hour and see how handicapped you feel. Have your mother or dad wrap both your hands in napkins and tie them so you can’t use them for a while. You’ll see.
People who study nature tell us that one of the greatest reasons man has developed more skills than the apes is that man can touch all his other fingers with his thumb, and the apes can’t. This means that man can grasp things and use his hands much better than the apes. Try writing without bringing your thumb over to your index finger. Try throwing a football without bringing your thumb around to your other fingers. Try sewing a hem on a dress without bringing your thumb toward your other fingers. Or, try buttoning your coat without using your thumb.
We are also told that primitive man made tools and weapons with which to hunt because he could use his hands better than any other animal. It is strange, isn’t it, that even though the apes are so highly developed, they never made tools or weapons or clothes to protect themselves from bad weather.
Now that we realize how precious our hands and fingers are, doesn’t it make sense for us to take good care of them? One would think so, but it is surprising how careless some children are! They take all kinds of risks with their hands and fingers. And some children never stop to think how bad it could be if they seriously injured even one finger.
We never realize how valuable each and every finger is until we hurt one of them. Our hands are very precious possessions and we should never put them in places where they can get hurt.
Here are some good rules everyone, including grown-ups, should follow in the care of their fingers and hands:
1. Hands get dirtier than any other part of the body and should therefore be washed frequently.
2. Dirt collects quickly beneath fingernails and looks terrible if left there. Everyone should clean his fingernails whenever they are dirty.
3. Loose skin around the nails is called a hangnail. Don’t pull or bite a hangnail, as it may lead to a nasty infection. Hangnails should be cut carefully with a scissors.
4. Fingernails should not be cut far down in the corners as this may lead to an infection.
5. Sooner or later everyone gets a splinter in a finger, often beneath the nail. Splinters should be removed as soon as possible in order to avoid an infection. It is always best to have a grown-up remove a splinter so that it doesn’t break off, leaving some of it behind. Deep splinters should be removed by a doctor.
6. We don’t know why children like to stick their fingers into the necks of bottles, but they do. This is a foolish thing for them to do as the finger may become stuck. When this happens, it might be necessary to go to a hospital and have the situation brought under control by a surgeon. This can be painful, so don’t put your fingers into bottlenecks or other tight places.
7. Curiosity is great. It teaches us many things we would not otherwise know. But never be so curious that you put your fingers into machinery that you don’t fully understand.
Many children have suffered serious injuries to their fingers and hands by sticking them into washing machines, washer-dryers, blenders, lawn mowers, and other appliances. Let your mother or dad fix these machines if they get out of order. Don’t you try to do it yourself!
8. Many homes have work rooms with electric saws and drills and lathes. These are wonderful instruments, and when children grow up, they will benefit a lot by knowing how to use them. But young children, and even children below the teen ages, should not tinker with electric tools unless one of their parents is there and gives permission for them to do so. Unhappily, many a child has had a serious hand or finger injury while trying to operate these tools.
9. Knives are valuable tools, too, but they must not be used as playthings. Throwing knives or fooling around with them can lead to bad cuts. More over, children should get instructions from their parents about how to use sharp knives before they try to cut with them. They should also learn how to open and close a penknife so as to avoid cuts to their hands and fingers.
10. Many children like to sew at an early age, and this is good for them to do. However, it is important that they learn to avoid sticking themselves with sharp needles. And they should also be taught how to use a thimble properly so that they don’t injure their fingers while sewing.
11. The kitchen is a great place to help in the cooking or cleaning up. But you have to be pretty careful in the kitchen if you want to avoid injuries:
A. Always use a potholder when taking a pot off the stove.
B. Always make sure you know how to light a stove or oven before trying to do it yourself.
C. Never wear loose, tong-sleeved clothing when working near the stove.
D. Never try to lift a pot or platter with hot food that might be too heavy for you to handle.
12. When you turn on the faucets to wash your hands, always turn on the cold water first, and always turn off the hot water first when you are finished washing.
13. Matches are not toys. Don’t play with them. You might burn your fingers, or even start a serious fire.
14. More children get finger and hand injuries from slamming doors than from anything else. Car doors, doors in your home, revolving doors, all can catch fingers if used improperly. Most doors have knobs which should always be used in opening and closing the door. People should push a revolVing door by the bar that is provided for the purpose. They should keep their fingers away from the edges of a revolving door.
Children should remember that they have two hands and that they must be careful about both of them. While slamming a car door with one hand, a child must watch out that the other hand is not caught when someone is closing the other door.
15. A good many cuts happen when opening soda bottles or pulling the tabs on cans carelessly. If these tops seem to be on very tight, it is a much better idea to let a grown-up open it for you.
16. Children who help out washing dishes should be sure to rinse all the soap or detergent off their hands, and then they should be sure to dry their hands thoroughly when they are finished. Cracking of the skin can lead to painful hands if they fail to do so.
17. Everyone should wear gloves when out in the cold. Chapped hands are not only ugly, but they can hurt quite a lot, too. Also, frostbite can result if a child fails to wear gloves when out in the cold.
18. Children frequently skin their knuckles while playing or roughhousing. If this happens, the skinned area should be cleaned with soap and water and then covered with a Band-aid. Skinned knuckles usually take a long time to heal, but they’ll take longer if they get infected or aren’t protected by a Band-aid.
Remember, some day you may be earning your living with your hands, so take especially good care of them while you are young.