Each year, many people look forward to carving pumpkins for Halloween! Scooping out the slimy guts, cutting out a scary face, and baking the seeds to eat as a snack is a fun experience your entire family can enjoy. But if you're not careful, carving a pumpkin can lead to painful cuts and injuries.
According to the ASSH (American Society for Surgery of the Hand), thousands of people hurt themselves carving pumpkins every year during Halloween. Some of these injuries require surgery, but there could be worse cases.
Following these safety tips can help you and your family avoid injuries while carving your pumpkins this year.
Using a specially designed pumpkin carving tool can be safer than using a kitchen knife. Carving saws, stencils and scoops are less likely to have sharp edges, meaning they are less likely to create deep, penetrating cuts.
According to Jeffrey Wint, MD, "a sharper knife is not necessarily better, because it often becomes wedged in the thicker part of the pumpkin, requiring force to remove it." If your hand is in the wrong place, this force can easily transfer to an injury when the knife is finally dislodged.
Unless you're a carving pro, don't freestyle your design! Create a pattern on the surface of the pumpkin before you start carving. Draw or create a stencil with a sharpie that you can follow with your carving saw. This will help to decrease the likelihood that you'll need to make corrections, which create more opportunities for injuries.
Take your time and make sure you are carving with control. After all, carving a Halloween pumpkin is meant to be a fun activity. There's no need to rush! Plan on budgeting a few hours at least for this activity. If you take a little extra time to carve the pumpkin, it will probably look better, and it's still going to be faster than recovering from a nerve or tendon injury.
When putting a candle in the pumpkin after your design is complete, make sure the flame stays far away from your skin. Consider cutting the bottom out of the pumpkin instead of the top. That way, you can just lower the pumpkin down onto the candle without having to reach your hand inside. Also, remember to blow the candle out before you go to sleep. As you know, forgetting to blow the candle out can cause a fire. As an alternative, consider using battery-operated candle-shaped lights.
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