How To Prevent BDSM Accidents (Or Deal With Them If They Happen)

Are we all tired of hearing about Fifty Shades of Grey yet? Well, too bad, because the aftershock's about to hit — and, in the case of some emergency rooms, it's going to require bolt-cutters. The fire brigade in the United Kingdom have issued a statement saying that after the BDSM series' first installment hit theaters they were anticipating a "spike" in calls to help people in sexy situations gone awry, particularly partners stuck in handcuffs or complicated knots. That's the thing about BDSM (and one of the myriad flaws of the book, aside from the huge there's-no-consent and BDSM-isn't-just-for-weirdo-stalkers problems): particularly if you're a novice or aren't paying attention, it has the potential to go wrong.

This is not to discourage you from fulfilling your kink wishes. By all means, be educated, find a willing partner, loudly and explicitly consent, and get down to the business of bondage, domination, submission, and sado-masochism, and all combinations therein. However, if you are in a situation which goes wrong, there are important steps to take to make sure everybody's OK and gets out safely and happily. The number one rule and motto of healthy BDSM is "safe, sane and consensual" — so know the risks, be safe, and don't panic.

1. Don't Play Without Educating Yourself

This is a preventative measure, but the risk of accidents will be far reduced if you are well-educated about what you're doing beforehand. Particularly if it involves pain, asphyxiation, knots or constraints, don't improvise. This is not the time to go free-jazz on something. You can start small and adjust things according to your and your partner's enjoyment, but don't aim too big too fast and don't try anything on a whim just because you "saw it once."

2. Stay Calm

If there is a problem, you must remember not to panic. BDSM situations are predicated on vulnerability and control, and if something unsafe happens, it's crucial that everybody stay calm, because there's a person in a vulnerable position, both psychologically and physically, who will need help.

3. Stop Immediately If There's A Problem

Accidents mean the play has to stop right then. You must step out of your roles and into problem-solving mode. The second the safe word happens, even if it's not for reasons of accidental pain or distress, things cease: this is a basic part of BDSM practice, guys. Take off all blindfolds and impediments, turn on useful lights, and pull your pants back on.

4. Keep Your Partner Informed

If you're the one who's trying to solve the problem, whether it's handcuffs that have broken, a knot that's lodged in a peculiar spot, or broken skin, don't leave your partner out of the loop. Keep updating them calmly on what you're doing and what your plans are, particularly if they can't see what's going on.

5. Act At A Proper Pace

Just because something isn't actively life-or-death at the moment doesn't mean it needs to be taken slowly. At the same time, though, ripping frenziedly at locked knots or bandaging somebody haphazardly in your haste won't help the situation at all. Deep breath. Be fast but thorough.

6. Know Some Basic First Aid

If you're going to start doing anything that might draw blood, involve bodily fluids or bruise, know what to do if those things happen or become unexpectedly intense. Basic first aid on cuts, bruises, and anything with foreign objects will come in handy.

7. Periodically Check In

If you're the partner helping the situation, keep checking the vulnerable person's mental state, and what you can do to make them feel comfortable and safe. If you're the one who's been stuck or hurt, or you both are, be open about what you need and what might make you feel better, and be honest about what the pain is. Don't struggle or start getting angry and finding fault; you need to solve the problem first.

8. Be Willing To Sacrifice Equipment

Knots can often be untied by going back to first principles on them, handcuffs can be picked with a bobby pin, and so on. (Whatever you're using, it's a good idea to at least have a vague concept of how to get out of it if things go wrong.) But if it comes down to it, it gets cut or snapped. Don't think twice. I don't care how expensive the equipment is.

9. Don't Be Ashamed To Get Help

If it's something you seriously cannot solve by yourself or things are pretty serious, call for help. Do not make up a story about it to medical professionals, either. Being frank and honest will save a lot of time and a lot of confused looks in the emergency room.

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