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30,000 Finger Amputations Yearly: The Most Common Finger-Loss Accidents and How to Avoid Them

About 30,000 people, both kids and adults, are rushed to U.S. emergency rooms each year because they've amputated a finger. The two most common causes are from things many of us come into contact with everyday: doors and power tools.

Young children getting fingers caught in doors is the most common cause of finger amputations in this age group, which is why child safety products like the one in this picture are so important.

Researchers from the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC) in Atlanta said doors and power tools are responsible for the majority of finger amputations, and they occur most often to kids and to men over 55. Specifically, they conducted a study published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine that found:

  • In children aged 4 and younger, three out of four finger amputations resulted from fingers that were caught, jammed or crushed in an opening or closing door.

  • In men aged 55 and older, more than half of finger amputations were caused by power tools (power saws, most often).

These two age groups were found to be most at risk for these types of injuries. Other interesting facts the researchers found were:

  • The finger most likely to be injured was the index or middle finger, which were injured most often by being struck by or against something, or cut or pierced by an object.

  • Nearly 70 percent of finger amputations were completely severed.

  • Some 55 percent of the injuries occurred in the home.

What to Do if Your
Finger Gets Cut Off

In the event that your finger is amputated during an accident, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons offers this advice:

  • Apply pressure to the injured area immediately.

  • Gently cleanse the amputated part with water (preferably saline).

  • Cover it in gauze wrap.

  • Put it in a watertight bag.

  • Place the bag on ice.

  • Do not put the amputated part directly on ice. You could further damage it.

  • Take the amputated part with you to the emergency room immediately.

Of course, doors and power tools are not the only risky objects in your home. For instance, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued an alert last year about paper shredders. CPSC received 31 reports involving finger amputations, lacerations or other injuries from paper shredders from January 2000 through December 2003. In this case, children between the ages of 14 months and 2 years were most at risk.

And Jerry Garcia, the Grateful Dead guitarist, had half of his right middle finger amputated during a wood-chopping axe accident when he was only 4. Other common activities that put your fingers at risk include:

  • Chopping vegetables-if chopping vegetables makes you (and your fingers) nervous, has the DigiGuard, a plastic, dishwasher safe cap that protects your fingers while you chop.

  • Clearing debris from a lawnmower or snowblower

  • Working with machinery

  • Closing windows and doors carelessly

  • Cutting flowers or shrubbery

When it comes to children, keeping an eye on them and teaching them not to put their hands into appliances like washers, dryers or dishwashers and away from door hinges and windows is a good start. Because getting their fingers accidentally slammed in doors is the leading cause of finger amputations in children (and one of the top home accidents overall), any home where children or grandchildren are present should have Finger Guards installed on the doors.

How to Avoid Finger Amputation Accidents

Finger GuardFinger Guards

  • Keeps door from slamming and helps prevent painful and serious finger injuries
  • SIMPLE to install and remove
  • Fits most exterior and interior doors
  • Soft and flexible
  • Available in 2-pack: Install one on each door that children use in the home

"These door guards are great and you can't beat the price. I like them better then another kind that I tried because these are smaller and thus fit on either side of the door (hinge side or full side of door). I've had them since my daughter was about 6 months old--and now that she is 13 mos and loves the "game" of opening and closing door repeatedly-these have saved alot of little fingers! I'm ordering more!"

- A new 44 year old mom from NY

Read More & Order Now

Finger Guards are simple to install, fit just about every type of door, and will keep kids' (and adults!) doors safe from getting jammed in the doors. We recommend one for every door in the home children might use, and that you install them higher up on the door where children can't reach them.

And as for adults, NCIPC researchers said those who use power tools should follow all safety instructions and "use good judgment to avoid exposing their fingers to direct contact with these potentially hazardous devices."

The bottom line is the best way to avoid finger amputation is to keep your wits about you when working with machinery, knives or any appliance with moving or sharp parts. If you become bored or too at ease while using a potentially dangerous piece of equipment, such as a lawnmower or power tool, you'll likely be less careful and that's when accidents tend to happen. Staying alert and taking your time when using machinery are the best ways to keep your fingers (and hands and limbs) safe.


Health Orbit March 7, 2005

Consumer Product Safety Alert

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

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