In 2019, it was estimated that 145 million Americans (or ~44% of the population) intended on purchasing a pumpkin for carving. In 2017, pumpkin carving accounted for 3,200 of the 16,706 Halloween related injuries. The most common pumpkin related injuries – yes, it’s a thing – are stab wounds to the fingers and palms. Injured structures can vary from skin, tendon, artery/vein, nerve, or tendon involvement.
When picking your perfect pumpkin, look for a green stem that is not brittle. If you are hoping to place a candle in your pumpkin, knock on the outside and look for a hollow sound. These tests ensure a “ripe” pumpkin that will not be challenging to cut into, improving safety and decreasing risk of injury.
Get Ahead of the Carve – Tips to Avoid Injury
- Carve in a well-lit, clean, dry area
- Supervise children – Assist with sharp tools or difficult portions of carving
- Attention – It is always important when handling sharp tools to be aware of what your hands (or little hands) are doing. This will make you less likely to sustain accidental lacerations.
- Care should be used when cutting or removing sharp utensils from pumpkin as well as when transferring sharp utensils to the sink for cleaning
- Do not put your hand inside of pumpkin for carving
- Use a stencil
- Always use a pumpkin carving kit. Kitchen knives and tools are helpful but not created for the task and can cause more slip and decreased grip on pumpkin
- First Aid – Stop bleeding, sterilize to prevent infection as soon as injury occurs, seek emergent care if bleeding does not stop or other complication occurs such as loss of motion or altered/lack of sensation