Friday, October 21, 2011

Safety Decisions: Knives

As a sailor, motorcyclist, motorcycle safety trainer, camper and security
professional (not credential-ism here, just letting you know from whence my
opinion springs), I have always supported making the best decisions on what
safety gear to use.

Whether it be a motorcycle helmet, a ballistic vest, or a PFD, it's best to make
decisions that are informed by facts and data. Informed decisions are,
hopefully, free of emotion, or assertions not based on any fact.

Every single piece of safety gear has a drawback that has to be dealt with.
Every single decision surrounding safety gear is an equation where we weigh the
costs/benefits in order to come to a decision. Everything has a price of

Sometimes it's cost, sometimes it's comfort (physical/emotional), sometimes it's

When making choices about safety gear, the biggest mistake I have seen people
make, is focusing on one drawback, one negative, at the expense of supporting
evidence for it's use.

I would strongly suggest that peer pressure, fashion, or worrying about looking
like a dork, should not be part of any equation. Ever.

Inflatable PFD choices are not free of this decision process.

Both of the following are true:

1) Manually operated PFDs will not open unless manually deployed. This is
considered a bonus for those that think this is important.

2) Manually operated PFDs cannot be deployed if you are unconscious (struck by a
boom, stumble and hit your head, pass out from something else) when you fall

If the contributing factors for the deaths of the sailors in the Mac race were
automatically operating PFDs, combined with being tangled in the tethers,
trapping them under a boat, one lesson may be the inclusion of an effective
knife to:

a) cut the tether
b) deflate the PFD if necessary

If you are going to get a knife to mitigate this issue, I'd suggest the
simplest, most rugged, most effective, most cost effective, fixed blade knife
you can get. I got this one for my wife. I think it's an excellent knife, for
many reasons. In my opinion, some of them are:

1) There is no opening mechanism to operate.
2) There is no opening mechanism to fail.
3) The knife is very rugged.
4) It is stored in and deployed from a very secure and rugged sheath.
5) Notice no pointy end. It's not easy to stab yourself, or others, with this
6) The serrated edge is very very sharp and, in my opinion, would be effective
in cutting.
7) It's inexpensive -- you can buy more than one.

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