Fall is here and that means Halloween and pumpkins are all about. Designing your jack-o-lanterns' face is a fun way to decorate, but there are some pumpkin carving safety tips you should consider before digging into your masterpiece.
Carve First and Then Remove the Top
Most of us cut off the top of the pumpkin, clean it by scooping out the seeds, and then begin carving. Consumer Reports asked a hand surgeon from the Somers Orthopedic Surgery & Sports Group in New York, Dr. Stuart J. Elkowitz about carving first and removing the top later.
Dr. Elkowitz says if you carve first, "You won't be tempted to put your hand inside and cut toward your hand." It's also recommended to hold the pumpkin from the top and point knife blades downward. Following Dr. Elkowitz's suggestions can help avoid a trip to an urgent care center.
Use Pumpkin Carving Kits
You don't need to find the sharpest knife you own to carve a pumpkin. In fact, almost all of the pumpkin carving kits are much safer. These kits come with small serrated carving tools, because sawing actually is better.
Knives are easily stuck in the pumpkin and if wedged tightly, you may injure your hand or wrist by removing it. The little saws that come in the kits are much safer. If you are cut while carving a pumpkin, clean with water and apply pressure to the cut. Apply a bandage after the bleeding stops.
For severe cuts to the wrists, fingers or tendons, it's best you receive immediate medical attention.
Never Let Children Carve the Pumpkin
As tempted as it is to let your child carve the pumpkin, it's not recommended. Children not used to knives or even the tools in a carving kit may cut their fingers—even with supervision. Sudden and unsafe carving techniques employed by children can cause severe cuts requiring urgent family care from a physician.
If you child wants to be involved, allow them to help with the design of the pumpkin's "face." Or, why not skip the carving and let them paint the face or use stickers to create the perfect jack-o-lantern? If your pumpkin is large, you should supervise cleaning of the innards and make sure your child only uses a small spoon and show them how to do it.
Create a Safe Carving Space
Another tip from Consumer Reports is to create a safe carving space. This means the area should be well-lit, free of any debris and dry. If you attempt to carve your pumpkin on a wet counter-top, it could slip and fall causing injuries to feet or toes. If you're holding the carving instrument when the pumpkin falls, you may experience a cut or scrape.
Attempting to carve a pumpkin in low light is also dangerous. Beyond the fact you can't really see what you're doing, you may choose the wrong carving implement and use it incorrectly or pick it up from the wrong end and injure your hand.
Follow these four pumpkin carving tips and all should go well. If you are injured, clean and apply pressure and seek out immediate urgent care.