The leaves are falling and FALL is finally here. Pumpkin carving is a fun activity for both children and adults on Halloween, but carving can be dangerous. Pumpkins are difficult to cut through due to their thick shell, making it easy to cut yourself while carving.

Each year, hand surgeons see thousands of finger and hand injuries on Halloween that can range from small cuts to necessary finger amputations. In fact, Halloween is one of the top three holidays that lead to the most emergency room visits each year. 

The American Society for Surgery of the Hand urges you to stay safe this Halloween, offering these tips to safely carve your pumpkins…

Carve in a clean, dry and well-lit area

Wash and thoroughly dry all of the tools that you will use, including: carving tools, knife, cutting surface, and your hands. Any moisture on your tools, hands, or table can cause slipping that can lead to injuries.

Always Provide Adult Supervision to Children 

All too often, we see adolescent patients with injuries because adults feel the kids are responsible enough to be left on their own. Even though the carving may be going great, it only takes a second for an injury to occur.

Leave the Carving Part to the Adults

Never let children do the pumpkin carving. I suggests letting kids draw a pattern on the pumpkin and having them be responsible for cleaning out the inside pulp and seeds. When the adults do start cutting, they should always cut away from themselves and cut in small, controlled strokes.

Sharper is not always better

A sharper knife is not necessarily better, because it often becomes wedged in the thicker part of the pumpkin, requiring force to remove it. An injury can occur if your hand is in the wrong place when the knife finally dislodges from the thick skin of the pumpkin. Injuries are also sustained when the knife slips and comes out the other side of the pumpkin where your hand may be holding it steady.

Use the Proper Tools or Purchase a Pumpkin Carving Kit

Special kits are available in stores and include small, serrated pumpkin saws that work better because they are less likely to get stuck in the thick pumpkin tissue. If they do get jammed and then wedged free, they are not sharp enough to cause a deep, penetrating cut. 

** If you do have a pumpkin carving accident, clean and keep continuous pressure on the wound, HOWEVER, if you are unable to stop the bleeding, or you are unsure of your Tetanus status, or you are unable to thoroughly cleanse the wound seek immediate medical help** 

We often take advantage of our Hands, don’t forget how important they are. We use that as our primary tools for exploring the world; an injury can permanently impact your home and work life. Please be safe this season!