Here’s a “scary” statistic. One that you may be surprised to learn has nothing to do with trick or treating. A recent study from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) shows that the most likely cause of ER visits during the Halloween season are finger and hand injuries. Common injuries this time of year include cuts to the palms or fingers deep enough to cause tendon and nerve injuries and burns to the hands caused by lighting jack-o-lanterns. Given this information, we thought this would be a good time to share a few tips for safely carving your Halloween pumpkin.
Carving your pumpkin doesn’t have to be such a hazardous task. With a little preparation, you can get ready for Halloween by safely and stably scooping and sculpting your pumpkin without stabbing or injuring your hands.
Tips for Carving Your Pumpkin
- Keep area and tools dry – To begin with, make sure your carving area is clean and dry. To avoid your knife or cutting tools from slipping, make sure the tools, all surfaces, your pumpkin and your hands are “bone” dry.
- Use a dull knife – Hand injuries most often occur when a sharp knife slips and the blade goes out the other side of the pumpkin and into the palm or fingers. While sharp knives are better for chopping up food, they are not necessarily better tools for carving pumpkins. Use a dull knife, carving kit, or specialty carving tools, which are much less likely to become jammed into your pumpkin.
- Use carving tools – Though Halloween is a once a year event, purchasing carving tools that make it easier to create your perfect pumpkin design is worth a few dollars and your safety. Using tools specifically for pumpkin carving means less stress on your hands and less risk of hurting your hands.
- A saw blade knife makes it easier to cut through the heavy rind
- A scraper helps clean the inside and also takes the hard surface layer off to make it easier and safer to cut through the pulp
- Lighting the candle – When your jack-o-lantern is complete and you’ve placed it in a safe area, you may want to place a candle in the bottom. A few tips – use an electric candle or cut out the bottom of the pumpkin, instead of the top, so that you can place the pumpkin down onto a lit candle rather than reaching inside and risking a burn as you light it.
The Best Way to Carve Your Pumpkin
The best way to carve your pumpkin is to use one hand to steady it and the other to carve it. If you use a knife, hold it firmly, take your time, and use controlled strokes as you point the blade away from your hands. If the blade gets stuck in the pumpkin, carefully work it out. Do not try to forcefully yank it free.
If you cut yourself, immediately clean your cut with warm, soapy water before applying a bandage. If bleeding continues after 10 to 15 minutes of applying direct pressure, get a ride to the closest ER. Watch for signs of infection. Even if the wound is small, if you have areas or numbness or your fingers won’t move normally, see your health care provider immediately. You may have nerve or tendon damage. If the injury is significant, you may be referred to a hand surgeon.
For most households carving a pumpkin is part of the annual rituals, following a few safety tips can make this time-honored tradition safe and fun for everyone!Like what you’ve read? Click here to subscribe to the blog!