There is no Halloween tradition quite like carving a pumpkin! From scooping out the slimy guts and carving a scary face or design on the side of the pumpkin, to baking the seeds to eat as a snack is practically a requirement during this holiday. But sometimes, sharp tools and a hard-to-cut pumpkin can cause painful cuts and dangerous injuries.
This Halloween, keep these safety tips in mind when you’re working on your pumpkin masterpiece:
GET HELP CARRYING A LARGE PUMPKIN
Big pumpkins are extra fun, but their weight can put a lot of stress on joints. Hold it close to your body and lift carefully or get someone to help you carry it.
CARVE IN A CLEAN, DRY, WELL-LIT AREA
Wash and thoroughly dry all of the tools that you will use (carving tools, knife, cutting surface, and your hands). Any moisture on your tools, hands, or table can cause slipping that can lead to injuries. As you cut the pumpkin, the slimy guts from it will coat your hands and knife handle. Use a towel often to dry the cutting surface, knife handles, and your hands.
ALWAYS HAVE ADULT SUPERVISION
Even the most responsible adolescent should not be left to carve on their own. It only takes a second for an injury to occur.
LEAVE THE CARVING TO ADULTS
Never let children do the carving. Let kids draw a pattern on the pumpkin and be responsible for cleaning out the guts. You can also make them the designated “hand dryer” official. Instruct them to remind you to dry your hands several times during the carving process; they will love it.
CARVE WITH CARE
When the adults do start cutting, they should always cut away from themselves and cut slowly and steadily in small, controlled strokes. Do NOT cut toward the hand holding the pumpkin. Sometimes it is safer to do the decorative work before taking the top off the pumpkin. Cutting the pattern first on the surface before gutting the pumpkin can reduce the likelihood you will put your hand in the pumpkin where it is vulnerable to injury.
SHARPER IS NOT BETTER
A sharper knife is not necessarily better because it can become stuck in the thicker part of the pumpkin, requiring force to remove it. An injury can occur if your hand is in the wrong place when the knife finally dislodges from the thick skin of the pumpkin. Injuries also happen when the knife slips and comes out the other side of the pumpkin where your other hand may be.
USE A PUMPKIN CARVING KIT
Pumpkin carving kits make the carving easier. The small saws and small plastic blades are easier to control, are not sharp, and won’t get stuck in the pumpkin. These kits are available in stores and online and usually result in far fewer injuries. Below is a link from Pumpkin Masters to show how easy the kits are to use:
KNOW BASIC FIRST AID
If, despite your best efforts to avoid an injury, someone ends up with a cut while carving pumpkins, wash with soap and water, and apply direct pressure to the injury using a clean dry cloth. If the bleeding doesn’t stop in 5-10 minutes, go to an emergency room or urgent care clinic.
IF YOU PLAN TO LIGHT UP YOUR HALLOWEEN MASTERPIECE
Use a battery-operated tea-light candle to illuminate the inside of your carved pumpkin. If you prefer to light your pumpkin the old-fashioned way, cut the bottom out of the pumpkin rather than the top. This technique helps you avoid burns as you place the pumpkin over the top of the candle instead of placing the candle inside the pumpkin.
OTHER ALTERNATIVES TO CARVING
- Allow children to decorate the pumpkins with markers, paint or non-carving decorations
- Use cookie cutters to create fun shapes and designs without using a sharp knife