I'm trying to recall some of things I have learned, most are as a result of a screw up. I am quite positive that most of this is common sense but for me, all stepping stones.
I sharpen standing up, it is more comfortable for me but it also means that I can and have dropped a knife onto a cement floor from the bench. I got lucky the first time, it was my own knife and it didn't snap the blade off. I now have rubber flooring in the basement and I've dropped 10 knives over the last 2 years without a single mishap. (I've never tried to catch one either). I also never sharpen without proper footwear. (Proper footwear being some nice comfy slippers most of the time but made from very absorbent material)
I like to dip my blade in water often as I am sharpening and especially before I go to wipe it off to make sure there is not grit left on the blade that could scratch it as I dry it off.
I used to have a large flat pan full of water but it was a pain because I had to dip the knife almost all the knife in, including the handle to get it wet. So I just switched to a Jug full of water, not I just have to Dip the blade down vertically into the jug instead of the awkward method I used previously.
I am quite sure that if anyone is reading this they are thinking............"and this guy is just thinking of these things now? "
No that's not the case, I'm going back a ways here and not trying to teach anyone anything just talking about sharpening........back off