Families are filling pumpkin patches to pick out that perfect gourd to turn into a jack-o'-lantern, but hand therapists say that Halloween fun can turn grisly if pumpkin carving turns into a nightmare on your street, a news release said.
According to the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission, there were more than 2,700 Halloween-related injuries in 2019 and more than 40% of the injuries were related to pumpkin carving.
Hand therapists at Baton Rouge Physical Therapy Lake shared safe tips and alternatives to trick out a jack-o'-lantern this Halloween season.
Six tips to keep pumpkin carving fun, not frightful:
Carve pumpkins in a well-lit and dry area: Carving pumpkins outside keeps the mess out of the house, but make sure you set up your carving station in a well-lit area so you can see what you are doing. Also make sure the area, the pumpkin, your hands and carving tools are dry so there are no unintended slip-ups that could leave you carving more than your pumpkin. The innards of a pumpkin are wet and slimy, so keep drying towels at hand to keep everything clean and dry.
Use a pumpkin carving kit: Leave the big chef knives for the horror movies and use the pumpkin carving kits that are sold in most grocery or convenience stores. The small tools are specially designed for pumpkin carving safety and the serrated pumpkin saws can cut your pumpkin without getting stuck deep in the pumpkin’s skin — or your skin. Large chef knives can cut deep and require force to pull out, and that is when many accidents happen.
Carve away from you: Use the same common sense you would when using any knife, cut and carve away from you, not toward you. It also cuts down on the chance for accidents if you use small strokes, almost like an edging. Don’t try to cut all the way through the pumpkin in one stroke.
Carve with the pumpkin top on: A good way to help keep your hand out of the pumpkin and harm’s way is to carve with the top on so you are not tempted to put your hand down in the gourd to get a better angle. Another option is to cut the hole in the bottom of the pumpkin instead of the top. This will also make it easier if you plan to put a candle inside your pumpkin. You can just set the pumpkin over the candle instead of dropping the candle inside.
Adult supervision required: The safest option is to leave the carving to the adults and let children help create the design and decorate. But if you feel your older child can carve their own pumpkin, be sure to go over all safety tips with them first, demonstrate the proper way to carve a pumpkin, and don’t leave their side. An adult watching over their shoulder will help keep them conscientious and careful, and you will be close by to prevent or tend to any slip-ups.
Be prepared for wound care: If you do cut yourself, use a clean cloth to put direct pressure on the cut. Superficial wounds should stop bleeding within 10 minutes. If not, it could be more serious, and you should seek medical attention as stitches may be required. The worst-case scenario would be if a tendon or nerve was lacerated and finger function is lost, which could require surgery and hand therapy.
Alternative pumpkin decor ideas include:
Painted Pumpkins: tinyurl.com/52zkxjsa
Duct Tape Pumpkins: tinyurl.com/23tu3n3u
Gauze and TP pumpkins: tinyurl.com/zp7y5hru
String Art Pumpkins: tinyurl.com/avzj4cea
Anything You Can Think of Pumpkins!: tinyurl.com/4rrcthcb