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Like lobsters, live crabs come equipped with some pretty powerful pincers. When handling live crabs, there are a few safety tips to keep in mind to make sure those claws do not get clamped on you. It does not matter what kind of crab you are handling; always follow these safety precautions to keep yourself safe.

Protecting Your Hands

Of course, your hands are most at danger for getting injured. Once a crab grabs hold, it can exert quite a bit of force and be difficult to dislodge. At best, you are looking at a painful bruise. If you are going to be handling lots of crabs, think about investing in a pair of crabbing gloves. These heavy duty rubber gloves protect your hands from the crab’s claws. While they will prevent your fingers from being cut by the claws, they still do not offer protection from the squeezing pressure.

If you are just moving the crab from your cooler to the pot, try a pair of tongs. Of course, you could drop the crab using tongs if you do not have a good, strong grip on them. Tongs work best with smaller species like blue crabs.

Approach From the Back

The safest way to handle a crab, gloves or no gloves, is from the back. If you pick up the crab at the base of their shell, holding it between your thumb and forefinger between the two back swimmer legs, the crab cannot reach you with its claws. This holds true on any crab that you would find in a fish market. From small blue crabs to large Dungeness, you can safely grab them and handle them if you watch where you put your fingers. This would work with King crabs, too if you are strong enough to hold them with one hand. Some of them are pretty large.

How to Handle a Live Crab

Freeing Yourself

If a crab does manage to latch onto your hand or finger, you will not be able to negotiate your freedom. You need to take action. With a small crab, you may get it off by flicking your wrist and sending it flying, but the easiest way to free yourself is place the crab in the water. This could be the ocean, or your holding tank in the boat. It could be a cooler with water in it. Once the crab feels itself back in the water, it will let go and try to swim away.

Dangers of Getting Pinched

Crab shells are covered in bacteria, like most things on Earth. They are bacteria, however, that you are not used to. If a crab pinches you and manages to break the skin, it is possible to get an infection. If this happens, wash the wound thoroughly and apply an antiseptic. See a doctor or go to the Emergency Room as soon as possible if you are not able to clean it thoroughly. They will be able to wash it out and disinfect it enough to prevent a dangerous infection. Of course, the best way to avoid an infection is to follow the guidelines here and not get pinched!

Picture, recipes and/or content upgraded: 01-20-16

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Christine Szalay-Kudra

Hi, my name is Christine. I am happy you are visiting today. Food is very important to everyone, and in this family we love to eat all kinds of dishes from meat and chicken to international cuisine, crockpot creations and more. Seafood is something we also love, and I love the fact it is nutritious as well as very tasty.

Everyone knows 'the big three' which are cod, tuna and salmon, but sometimes it is fun to try different types of fish, such as perch, trout, monkfish, or even shellfish like mussels or clams. There are seafood recipes for every season and occasion, those served chilled for a refreshing burst of flavor, and those served hot in stew or soup form.

Choose from crispy fried fish, tender pan-fried or poached cuts, or what about a seafood medley boasting the most wonderful flavors of the sea, lake or river? Seafood can be served as part of a salad or savory dish, or it can be served as an appetizer or snack. Bacon-wrapped scallops, anyone? You will find a comprehensive collection of wonderful seafood recipes right here, for your inspiration and enjoyment.

Thanks for visiting,