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 even finger amputations. In fact, Halloween is one of the top three holidays that lead to the most emergency room visits each year. If done right, pumpkin carving can be a lot of fun and produce festive decorations during spooky season.
The American Society for Surgery of the Hand urges you to stay safe this Halloween! These helpful tips on how to carve a pumpkin safely were compiled from board-certified hand surgeons from around the country.
- Be sure your carving space is clean, dry and well-lit. Your hands should be dry, as should all of your tools. It’s easy for your hand or your pumpkin to slip on wet surfaces and cause you to cut yourself or someone else.
- Adults should always do the actual carving. Let the young children draw an outline on the pumpkin, help clean out the pulp, and/or help pick out the seeds for snacking later.
- Don’t use kitchen knives. Kitchen knives are incredibly sharp and intended solely for cutting food. Super sharp knives like these can get stuck in the pumpkin and be difficult to pull out, making it easy to slip and cut yourself. Instead, use a serrated pumpkin saw from a carving kit. A “serrated” knife is one with scalloped edges that make it easier to cut through tough materials like pumpkin.
- Always carve away from the body, not toward the body, in case of a slip. Carve slowly and steadily. If you’re holding your pumpkin with one hand, always cut away from the exposed hand.
- Explore alternatives! Pumpkin decorating kits are safe and equally fun. They’ll provide you with paint, stickers and other fun materials. Plus, your pumpkin will last much longer if it hasn’t been cut.