What follows is not an exhaustive selection of safety tips. If I were to try and list full safety guidelines for each and every activity that anyone might want to participate in, this book would be an extremely long one. Instead, I have compiled some of the most common kink activities and listed a selection of things about which it is important to be aware when playing.
Consider these safety tips very much a starting point. Before playing it is important to do your own research, and make sure you know what you’re doing from the very start. The internet is an invaluable resource when it comes to this, and should be your first port of call. As with everything on the internet though, remember to follow up and check sources, rather than just taking information for granted.
When doing rope bondage it is important to use good quality ropes that won’t abrade the skin. The stuff that you buy at a hardware store is absolutely not suitable for bondage. Get rope that is designed for the purpose of tying someone up instead. While you’re stocking up, also get hold of a pair of safety shears – sometimes called tough cuts. These are specialist scissors often used by paramedics to cut through clothes to get to an injury. You might need to use them to cut a rope if someone needs to be released in a hurry. With safety shears you are less likely to cut someone’s skin while cutting the rope. Keep them close at hand when tying. Learn you craft from someone who knows what they’re doing, or from a reliable online resource. Be aware that people have pressure points just underneath the skin. The pressure from rope on nerves and joints can cause long term damage. Constantly check in with your partner while tying. Make sure they know to alert you in any part of their body goes numb or starts tingling. Check frequently that they can still move all their fingers and toes, and that they can feel their hands and feet. If part of their body goes very pale, or becomes very flushed this could be a sign that something is wrong.
In general when spanking start slow and build up to heavier impacts. Use your hand at first, before moving onto an implement. Ensure that you are using something that was made for purpose – other objects can split or splinter and end up cutting someone. Take aim carefully, and avoid the lower back and spine. Hitting the tailbone can cause damage to the spine, and hitting the kidneys can cause internal injuries. In general, stick to areas that are fleshy and well padded. If you draw blood with an impact play tool, make sure to clean it thoroughly afterwards and set it aside to dry for a week or two, to minimise the chance of infection being passed on.
Be very careful when playing with knives. It is best to start with one that is very blunt, to get an idea of how your partner moves, and how you yourself behave with a knife. If you plan to cut your partner or pierce their skin, it is crucial that you sterilise the implement before hand, as well as their skin. Make sure you have clean dressings on hand to cover their wounds afterwards, and be aware that blood can be dangerous – make sure you aren’t going to be endangering anyone else. Plan to make only very shallow cuts on fleshy areas of the body, but equip yourself with a first aid kit and know what to do in case you slip and cut deeper or elsewhere. If you have disposable sharps, get hold of a sharps box and make use of it. Do not simply discard used blades or needles, as people might step on them.
Anal is a very popular activity, and one that many vanilla people engage in. It is still dangerous though. When having anal sex make sure to use an extra thick condom, and a huge amount of lube – more than you think you need. Start slow and small and work up to it. The receiving partner may wish to cleanse themselves with an enema first, but should be aware that these dry out the rectum, and so should be used sparingly – give your body a chance to recover afterwards. Change condoms and wash before going from performing anal sex to performing vaginal sex. At all times proceed carefully and slowly. If you plan to use anal toys make sure that they have a flared base and are of good quality.
Toys In General
When buying toys there are a few things you should consider. The first – are these toys phthalate free? Many dildos, butt plugs and other insertables use phthalates in their manufacture. Studies have shown that this makes them mildly carcinogenic. Avoid phthalates, and shop for insertables at an outlet that clearly marks their products as containing phthalates or not. Make sure to pick up some sex toy cleaner when you purchase your toys – you’ll need it to clean and disinfect your toy after every use. Also pick up a bag, box, or other container to store your toy in. Rubber and silicon toys stores together in a drawer can “melt”, and so you will want to store these things separately.
Depending on how you use your toys, you may also wish to take some precautions to make them safer. This applies particularly if you plan to use the toy on more than one person, or if you’re borrowing a toy from someone. In this event, it is important to use a condom over the toy before inserting it or bringing it into contact with any mucous membranes. It is possible for viruses and bacteria to survive on the surface of toys for a surprisingly long time, even after repeated washings. To be safe, use a condom.
Never do breath play alone. And use only hands, rather than a belt or any other implement. Hands can be removed at once if necessary, whereas belts and other ligatures can take time to remove – time that you may not have in an emergency. Never suspend yourself from anything. Keep an eye out for signs that your partner is running short of air. Start slow and build up. Understand the anatomy of the neck before attempting to choke someone – and know what you are trying to do. Know what is normal for them and be aware of any medical conditions they might have.
Suspension is a very advanced skill, and not something you should dabble with unless you have had instruction from someone with a great deal of experience. You need to know exactly what you’re doing before you begin – make sure also that the environment is suitable. Consider what surface you are suspending someone over, and from what you are suspending them. Make sure that all your equipment is appropriate and is in good working order. Be aware of the potential for nerve damage and circulation issues whenever tying anyone in a suspension.
When wrapping someone up in cling film or vet wrap, you should be aware that these materials can obstruct the airway and make breathing difficult. Never leave someone unattended when wrapped, and monitor them closely at all times to ensure that they are not experiencing breathing difficulties. Know also that the body temperature of a wrapped person can rise very rapidly, leading to other health problems – including a potential heart attack. Do not leave someone wrapped for an excessive length of time, and work out in advance how you plan to remove them from bondage in the event of an emergency.
Any play involving electricity is inherently dangerous. Make sure you understand completely the workings of the equipment you are using, and that it is in good repair and has been recently tested. Do not use any equipment that is outdated or damaged. Be aware of metal jewellery that a person may be wearing, and ensure that you account for it when playing with them. Do not allow current to cross the heart under any circumstances, and be aware of any medical conditions – particularly cardiac ones – that your partner might have.
Consensual Non consent
Playing with consensual non consent can be a dangerous game. Ensure that you always have a safe-word or safe gesture. Things can change very rapidly in any encounter and both parties need to be able to stop the scene at a moment’s notice if they wish to. Pay attention to the behaviour of your partner, and learn the signs that they put out when they are in difficulty. Be attentive, and don’t be afraid to check in. If you’re playing in public, make sure everyone around you knows that consent has been discussed, so that they don’t become alarmed or try to intervene.
Be aware when anybody is in any kind of bondage – or even when they’re not – of the possibility of slips, trips and falls. This danger is magnified whenever anyone is bound in any way, as this will quite often mean that they cannot use their arms to catch themselves if they do fall. Falls can happen exceptionally quickly, and the best way to avoid them is to make sure that you never need to move away from a bound person, even if just for a few seconds. Have all the equipment you need on hand when you begin the scene, and make sure that your attention remains focussed on your partner.
Another general note: it is worth making sure that the person you’re playing with has eaten at some point that day, and that they are well hydrated. Along with all your play equipment, bring a bottle or two of water with you, so that you have something to give them – mid-scene if necessary. Hydration is a key one, as it can sometimes be difficult to notice when you are becoming dehydrated.
Gags prevent your partner from communicating with you (or you from communicating with your partner). The greatest danger of gags, therefore, is that they prevent people from alerting whoever they are playing with when something is wrong. For this reason, if you are going to be using gags, it is a wise idea to come up with a safe gesture. This can be something as simple as tugging on your ear, or as elegant as holding onto something which you drop when you wish to stop the scene. Whatever you come up with, it provides a valuable way of communicating with a partner in an emergency. Gags can also cause problems should the person wearing one vomit, as the gag prevents the vomit from leaving the airway of the person in question. Be aware of this danger, and know how to quickly and safely remove the gag if necessary. If using a ball gag, make sure the ball is firmly attached to the straps – if it is not it can become detached and present as a choking hazard. Finally, gags can cause damage to teeth, so take pains to avoid any kind of impact to someone who is wearing one.
And finally there’s sex. This may seem like a vanilla activity, and you may well be aware of the dangers already, but some of them bear repeating. Make sure to use contraception to prevent pregnancy, and also to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Know that no form of contraception is one hundred percent effective, and double up if you can – for example by combining the pill with condom use. Be honest about your sexual health and sexual history, and ask that your partner does the same. Wash and urinate after sex to prevent urinary tract infections. Never give oral if you have a sore on your lips or in your mouth. Do not give oral directly after brushing your teeth. Dispose of bodily fluids responsibly. Be aware when engaging in rough sex that bruising and other injuries can occur – stop if anything feels very wrong, and be prepared to consult your doctor if you feel as though you may have done something serious.