Staying Safe when Carving Pumpkins
“Goblins, alley cats, witches on brooms. Wind in the trees playing scary tunes. These are the things that are heard and seen in the dark of night on Halloween.” Yes, Halloween is a fun time for many, especially since it can mean scary haunted houses, trick or treating, decorating, costume parties, and pumpkin carving. Most people consider those activities to be safe, but keep in mind that plenty of pumpkin carving injuries occur to the hand every year when people attempt pumpkin carving.
Pumpkins are extremely tough and that can make carving rather difficult. A slip of the knife can mean a hand injury that sends you to the emergency room. However, if you want to carve that jack o lantern safely, then follow these tips to protect you and your hands during the process.
Work in a Dry and Well Lit Area
To begin with, find the right place to work. This should be a well-lit area where you can always see the pumpkin and the knife. Additionally, the area should be completely dry. That includes the surface where the pumpkin rests as well as any blades you will be using. Anything that is damp could cause the pumpkin to slip and that will most likely lead to an injury.
Use the Proper Tools
Its a good idea to choose the right tools when you will be carving a pumpkin because the wrong ones could be dangerous.
- If you decide to use a knife, make sure it is clean and dry. This is a case when a dull knife is better because it will not get lodged in the skin of the pumpkin.
- If you do use a sharp knife, then make sure you use it very carefully. Do not hold the pumpkin stead on the other side of the gourd from where your knife is working. If the blade becomes stuck, you will have to exert pressure to dislodge it and it could protrude from the other side of the pumpkin, cutting you.
- Consider using a pumpkin carving kit. These kits come with very small serrated blades that are much less likely to get lodged in the pumpkin and do not have sharp tips, which mean they cannot penetrate your hand.
When carving the pumpkin, if you choose to use a knife, then make sure you are always carving away from your body. Also, use small cuts to avoid the knife getting stuck in the pumpkins skin.
Considering an Alternate Route
If your children wish to get involved, do not allow them to use any sharp blades and do not carve while they have their hands on the pumpkin. Instead, consider an alternative. You can use Sharpie markers to draw fun faces on the pumpkin or your children can use stickers and paint to decorate. This way, no blade will be used and your kids will be safe.
If you will be carving the pumpkin anyway, make sure you do so in a controlled environment far away from any children and do not let small children assist or get too close to any blades.
What to Do in Case of Injury
Pumpkin carving injuries can range from minor to very serious. If you suffer from a severe injury, you will need to go to an emergency room or hand surgeon right away. The injury could take months for your hand to recover.
If you think the cut is minor, then wash it with water and antibacterial soap and then apply pressure to the wound. It should stop bleeding in a few minutes. However, if it continues to bleed after 15 minutes of this pressure applied, you will need to visit the emergency room. Other signs that tell you that a visit to the professionals is a must include:
- Fingers that become numb or start tingling and do not stop
- Severe penetrative cuts or actual loss of fingers
- Cuts that occur when you are not up to date on your tetanus shot
If you are unsure, but you think your injury is bad, it only makes the most sense to go see a hand surgeon or emergency room doctor as soon as possible. If you have severe injuries that are left untreated, then you could deal with permanent damage. Stitches may be required if the cut is deep. If it involved any nerves or tendons, then you may need surgery to correct the problem.