There was a comment in yesterday’s The Presumption of Safety that I thought I’d answer in a bit of detail.
Here it is, from Steve:
When shoddies ask about protection I talk about looking where I’m going. One year on, and I have only a few puncture wounds from thorns. No glass or needle wounds yet. (Do you know of any?) Actually, I did get a glass cut on a beach as a child.
First, let me mention thorns. I do a lot of hiking, and the occasional thorn is inevitable. However, with thorns what usually happens is that I don’t even know I have one until I get home and later notice a bit of tenderness. Then I have to carefully inspect my sole. Those thorns rarely draw blood—they haven’t penetrated far enough. What’s happened is that they’ve penetrated far enough towards the quick that I feel them, but they actually haven’t made it to any blood.
Regarding glass, I thought I’d put up again the short video I made:
However, if you’d like a video with real production values, by somebody who really knows what they are doing (and to make it worse, is pretty humorous :-)), Ken Bob Saxton just produced this one a few days ago.
Seriously, watch it the whole way through. It is very good.
But Steve also asked if I knew of any glass or needle wounds.
In 17 years, I have gotten three slivers of glass.
When it comes to the large pieces of glass as shown in both the videos, the whole secret, as I’ve said before, is that skin does not puncture easily, but it can be sliced. So, if you are putting your feet straight up and down and not sliding it, most glass will not hurt you.
When it comes to longer, sharp slivers, though, and needles, they are sharp enough that they can puncture the skin. The thing is, for that to happen, they have to be pointing up.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I’ve always found it hard to balance a needle (or a glass shard) on its point. They almost always lie down flat.
But there are a few situations where that might not be the case, and one of those is rough asphalt. The lumps and bumps can allow the shard to be sitting with its point in the air. (Getting a needle to have its point in the air is nearly impossible, since they are too long.)
So, that’s how I got the three shards over 17 years. In two of the instances, they were like the thorns—didn’t penetrate far enough to hit blood, but I could still feel them. I stopped a moment, plucked them out, and that was that.
The third one was acquired on a rougher surface. I was behind an apartment on the campus of The Ohio State University (so you can imagine what that was like). This one went in and did not come out easily. Worse, I didn’t have any tweezers with me. And even worse, I needed to walk around campus.
So I did. By shifting my foot just slightly when I stepped (just try doing that with a shoe on), I managed to avoid putting any pressure on it and didn’t even feel in most of the day. And then when I got home, I tweezered it out, got a drop of blood or two, slathered in some antibiotic, and that was the end of it.
So, generally, that’s about how dangerous glass has been for me.