When I teach a brand new quilter who has never touched a rotary cutter before, I make sure they know how dangerous a tool they can be. First I show them my scars and tell how I got them, then I proceed to tell them the horror stories I have heard or been witness to over the last 10 years. For instance, I have a friend that another friend has nicknamed "Nine Fingers". NF travels with my other friend and I on occasion to shows and helps us by cutting fabric for customers when we are busy. Within 3 months, she had cut herself 2 times. On the second accident is when she received her nickname. After we had her bandaged, she returned to the cutting table and picked something up. It was the tip of her finger.
I have left my rotary cutter open on the table, and since I am barefoot most of the time when I am home, when I knocked it off of the table, it landed on the top of my foot and cut me. From this experience, I now have a rule in the classroom. If I come by your table and your rotary cutter is open and you're not using it, you owe me a quarter.
I had one student who told me she left her cutter open on her table in her sewing room and her grandchild walked in and picked it up thinking it was a lollipop. I have forgotten the end of this story, unfortunately(maybe I blocked it out), so I don't know if she caught them in time or had to make a trip to the hospital.
I heard about a nationally known teacher who cut herself during a workshop she was teaching and asked for a needle and thread to sew her hand shut. Fortunately for herself and the workshop participants, the cut wasn't as bad as it could have been and the shop she was teaching for had butterfly bandages which did the trick.
Rotary cutters aren't the only dangerous tool in our studios. We have all seen or maybe own a tomato pincushion. How many needles do you think are lost inside of them? I'm betting close to 100. A friend of mine knocked hers off her sewing table and didn't notice until she stepped on it. She pulled about 80 needles out of her foot before she stopped counting.
Do you have any sewing room horror stories you'd like to share that I can include in my rotary cutter safety speech?