Don’t spend Halloween in the emergency room! Tips for Carving Pumpkins Safely

Carving pumpkins, costume contests, trick-or-treating and bobbing for apples are all fun Halloween traditions for both children and adults. Unfortunately for hand surgeons, Halloween does not always bring fun and games. In fact, each Halloween doctors are usually busy treating hand injuries from knives used to carve pumpkins.

Hand injuries during pumpkin carving occur quickly and a lot easier than you might think. The pumpkin is moist and slippery. Knives may be hard to control and unpredictable to cut with or pull out of a tough pumpkin. An injury received during pumpkin carving can significantly injure muscles, nerves, and blood vessels and quickly put an end to what should be a fun family event.

Following these safety tips can help avoid injury:<

  • Adults should use caution when carving pumpkins. Teenagers should be closely supervised in a non-distracting environment. Children should not carve pumpkins, but may contribute by helping to draw the pattern or remove the pulp. Sometimes painting a pumpkin can be a fun alternative to carving for children.
  • Dry your hands and the pumpkin before carving.
  • The small tools in a pumpkin carving kit are safer to use than kitchen knives.
  • Place the pumpkin on a solid surface such as a carving board during carving.
  • Avoid cutting towards the hand that is holding the pumpkin. Make small controlled cuts with short pumpkin carving tools.
If an injury occurs:
  • Apply direct pressure to the wound.
  • Clean the wound, apply an antibiotic, and bandage.
  •  If the wound bleeds profusely or for more than 15 minutes, is deep or long, go to the emergency room for immediate treatment.

Use pumpkin carving precautions and have a safe and Happy Halloween!

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This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.