Scott Robertson

Teaching Tool Safety

By: Posted On: 2009-08-09

In my last post I talked about how each camp tool is safe when use properly. Its not the tool that is dangerous but rather how the user uses it. Today I would like to make some comments on teaching tool safety to Scouts and other young people. I personally find the totin chip shall we say lacking, especially at some summer camps for example where it can be earned in ten minutes just by reading the Scout Handbook. The totin chit class the Troop I was with was 45 mins and actually taught each of the safety and skills needed to use and care for the tools. At the end of the course the Scouts actually demonstrate there ability to use the tools properly and safely. 

This does not mean we alter the rules to earn the totin chit but rather put it more into a seminar where they learned it all by doing. I know each unit has its on way of handling things, but just from here are some ideas perspective well here are some other ideas...  

We always put an older Scout in charge of the ax yard (of course adults watching it too), if we (the adults) had to deal with a problem the older Scout was told they both could lose a corner. Basically this made the older Scout more accountable to what occurs in the ax yard. 

Another thing I was at a summer camp one year where staff was walking around morning flags with knives open wittling on twigs. I reported it to the camp director and never saw it happen again. But do us all a favor if you have a knife open sit down away from anyone else. 

If a tool gets damaged or broken flag it with some tape or something so you know its broken and put it away. I have seen ax heads go flying, with the handle still in some ones hands... not a pleasant thing to watch. 

Also remember a sharp tool is far safer then a dull one. It is better if the tool is clean. A sharp tool is less likely to slip and cut some one, and will also complete the job with less effort. This does not mean a sharp tool is not dangerous, just that it is safer then a dull one when use properly. 

Lastly, we had two simple rules... if it was sharp such as a stick with a point on it, piece of glass, a sharp rock, etc then it was covered by the totin chit. If it was hot such as a match, a hot stick, a stove, a latnern, glass reflecting the sun, a magnifying glass being used to generate heat, etc it was cover by the fireman chit. 

For more ideas on how to teach tool safety refer to this syllabus I wrote many years ago … please use common sense for example some of the BSA policies are no longer accurate.

I would like to hear your comments on this subject, please post them below.



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