Thumbs up for first-aid kits

I’ve written many stories over my journalism career about farm injuries and the importance of having first-aid kits in farm shops and tractors, and I plan to start practicing what I’m preaching.

A thumb with an injury from a knife.
An incident with a paring knife reminded Ann Bailey her family needs to have a First Aid kit on hand.
Ann Bailey / Agweek

Chop, chop, chop, yikes, owie, OUCH.

With a misplaced swipe of my paring knife across an onion, the vegetable I was chopping to add to the lentil soup simmering on the stove took a significant chunk of skin off of my left thumb.

The pain was sharp ,and when I looked down blood was pouring out of the gouge.

I’m not afraid of the sight of blood — good thing because between me, my children and our pets I’ve seen more than my share — but I was a little shook by the amount that was spurting out of my thumb. I’ll use that as an excuse for why I decided that I should tear off the flap of skin that was hanging over the gouge. After gritting my teeth and yanking off the piece, it occurred to me that maybe I should have left it intact in case the wound could be stitched.

Regardless, I washed out the wound and then started hunting for bandages. I found a box in the cupboard where we keep our medications and, with my good hand, started picking through the box to find a big bandage. By this time the kitchen counter was starting to look like a crime scene.


As quickly as I could, I found a large bandage and wrapped it around my thumb. Then I added a couple of more for good measure. In my haste to find bandages and because it’s awkward to bandage with only one hand, I ruined several of them, which nearly depleted our already low supply.

A box of Mickey Mouse Band-Aids.
Mickey Mouse Band-Aids were all that was left at Ann Bailey's home after she depleted the family's supply of adult-sized bandages.
Ann Bailey / Agweek

My thumb started bleeding again later that night, and again the next morning when I removed the bandages. I replaced them with what was left of our meager supply of adult-sized bandages. By then, the only bandages left were the small Disney cartoon character strips we had bought a couple of decades ago when our children were small. Fortunately, the adhesive on them still was good and they did an adequate job of protecting my thumb when I put several layers of them on it.

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For extra measure, I fashioned a second layer of bandages over the Mickey Mouse ones out of a folded paper towel and secured it with clear adhesive tape left over from wrapping Christmas presents.

Three days after my injury, my thumb looked much better and wasn’t bleeding, so I removed the bandages so it could get air. It’s still tender, and I’m pretty sure I would scream loudly if I bumped it hard, so I’m being careful to keep it inside my hand when I move about the house.

As I was walking the other day, keeping my thumb protected, close to my body, I was thinking about how quickly accidents can happen and that we should have a first aid kit on hand. When our children were young, we did that, but lapsed after they moved away from home. First-aid kits, like electricity, are things that we don’t miss until they’re not available.

My thumb injury was a wake-up call that we need to buy another first-aid kit or put one together. The farmstead, where we drive tractors, lawnmowers and four-wheelers, climb on ladders to clean eaves troughs and operate power tools is a landmine of potential injuries. Not to mention cooking and baking incidents.

I’ve written many stories over my journalism career about farm injuries and the importance of having first-aid kits in farm shops and tractors, and I plan to start practicing what I’m preaching.

I’ll have an ideal opportunity to do that because Katelyn Landeis, of North Dakota State University is talking at the International Crops Expo in Grand Forks on making and taking home a first-aid kit for tractors. The pilot program may be replicated across North Dakota, if it is successful.


The “Build and Take Home Your Own Tractor First Aid Kit” session is at 9:40 a.m., Wednesday, Feb. 22, at the Alerus Center. It is limited to 50 individuals. A presentation on farm safety and injury response will be held from 10:20 a.m. to 10:50 a.m. Landeis is collaborating with Grand Forks County Farm Bureau, Sanford Health and NDSU Extension Farm and Ranch Safety Coordinator Angie Johnson for the presentations.

I plan to attend both sessions and write a story about them for Agweek . I also plan to use the knowledge I gain from them to make my own first-aid kit and learn about injury prevention and response. I hope I won’t have to use the knowledge gleaned from the session, but I’ll feel better knowing that if I do, I’ll be better prepared to treat them than I was for the thumb incident.

A thumb with a paper towel around it that is secured by adhesive tape.
The extra layer of protection Ann Bailey put on her thumb made it awkward to type, but it also prevented it from getting bumped.
Ann Bailey / Agweek
Ann Bailey Eric Hylden / Grand Forks Herald

Ann Bailey lives on a farmstead near Larimore, N.D., that has been in her family since 1911. You can reach her at 218-779-8093 or

Ann is a journalism veteran with nearly 40 years of reporting and editing experiences on a variety of topics including agriculture and business. Story ideas or questions can be sent to Ann by email at: or phone at: 218-779-8093.
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