Carving pumpkins and decorating the house are all part of Halloween fun but unfortunately The American Society of Hand Therapists (ASHT) and American Society for Surgery of the Hand (ASSH) see an increased number of injuries this time of year. According to the ASSH, pumpkin carving results in four to five times more injuries than normal.
Some are minor but many can involve cut tendons and nerves that require months of recovery. To avoid this painful inconvenience, check out tips below courtesy of the ASHT and ASSH.
Here are some pumpkin carving tips for safer Halloween fun:
1. Ask for help carrying a big pumpkin.
Big pumpkins are fun but their weight can put a lot of stress on joints. Hold it close to your body and lift carefully.
2. Make sure your pumpkin carving spot is clean, dry, and well lit.
Wash and carefully dry all the tools that will be used as well as the cutting surface. Any moisture on your tools, surface, or hands can cause a slip that leads to a cut or bad injury.
3. Have the right tools for the job.
Pumpkin carving kits make the carving easier. The small saws and small plastic blades are easier to control, are not sharp,and don’t get stuck in the pumpkin. These kits are available in stores and online and usually result in far fewer injuries. Some kits recommended by the ASSH, American Academy of Family Physicians and the American Academy of Pediatrics include:
- SpookMaster, Inc.
- Pumpkin Carving Techniques and Tools
- Nightview Productions, Inc.
4. Sharper is not necessarily better.
Often sharper kitchen knives get lodged in the thicker part of the pumpkin, or the knife slips and comes out the other side of the pumpkin where your hand may be holding it steady. Making small controlled cuts and using tools that cannot reach the other side reduces risk of injury.
5. Always have adult supervision.
Even the most responsible adolescent should not be left to carve on their own. It only takes a second for an injury to occur.
6. Leaving the cutting and carving to adults.
Children should help clean the pumpkin and scoop out the pulp and seeds. Encourage them to draw a pattern, or use the many great patterns available in stores or online, but, again, the carving really should be left to the grown-ups.
7. Carve with care.
While carving, cut away from yourself and cut in small controlled strokes. Do NOT cut toward the hand holding the pumpkin. Sometimes it is safer to do the decorative work before taking the top off the pumpkin. Cutting the pattern first on the surface before gutting the pumpkin can reduce the likelihood you will put your hand in the pumpkin where it is vulnerable to injury.
8. Know basic first aid techniques.
If, despite your best efforts to avoid an injury, someone ends up with a cut while carving pumpkins, wash with soap and water, and apply direct pressure to the injury using a clean dry cloth. If the bleeding doesn’t stop in 5-10 minutes, go to an emergency room or urgent care clinic.