With Halloween just around the corner, pumpkin carving is a popular activity, but it comes with safety risks. Many people seriously injure themselves by accidentally cutting their hand or wrist while pumpkin carving. In a recent press release, expert hand surgeon, George Kardashian, M.D., of The Center for Bone and Joint Disease provides emergency tips on how to handle this scary situation and how to best prevent it from happening.

Tools to use: “Jack-o’-lanterns are part of Halloween fun, but remember to take precautions before and during cutting.” Says Kardashian. “Use appropriate tools such as knives that resemble small saws and are specifically made for pumpkin carving.” These can be purchased at almost any store selling Halloween supplies or costumes. Most importantly, do not use an oversized knife or a razor blade.

When it comes to kids wanting to be a part of pumpkin carving: “Kids can still be safely involved in this fun activity. Supervise and assist children,” explains Kardashian. “Allow kids to have fun with the creative designs and draw on the outside of the pumpkin. They can also have fun scooping out the insides of the pumpkin! It’s best to leave the carving to the adults.”

Make sure your work area is safe and that your knife handle and hands are dry and will not slip due to moisture. After all that, it’s your turn to do the cutting!

If an accident does occur and you find yourself in an emergency situation, Kardashian advises the following:
  • Remove any foreign objects – specifically, pieces of a blade or the knife itself.
  • Elevate and apply pressure constantly until you receive professional care.
  • Immediately go to a medical care facility or contact 911.
In situations with severe lacerations, an orthopaedic hand specialist will be brought in to assess the injury and check if a tendon, blood vessel, nerve or combination of the three have been severed and will determine if surgery is required.

“Injuries involving surgical repair do require a long recovery,” explains Kardashian. “However, taking the proper precautions will eliminate the chance of an incident like that to occur.”