Pumpkin carving safety tips

Pumpkin carving safety tips »Play Video
Carving pumpkins is a Halloween tradition for many families and a thrill to many kids. But carving pumpkins can be perilous.

According to a study published in the Journal Pediatrics, Halloween is among the top holidays producing the most e-r visits for kids, partly due to finger and hand injuries.

"Every year, I would see typically two to three patients in that adolescent age range that sustained a pumpkin carving injury," said Dr. Stuart Elkowitz, a hand surgeon.

Hand surgeons have to repair the damage every Halloween.

"The most common injury I have seen with the pumpkin carving injuries are lacerations to the flexor tendons, which are the tendons that bend your finger," Elkowitz said.

Consumer Reports medical adviser Dr. Orly Avitzur has some tips on avoiding a Halloween accident.

"Pumpkins are slippery and knives are sharp, and that's just a bad combination. Instead, pick up one of these pumpkin-carving kits, which are available just about everywhere these days," said Avitzur.

The tools are smaller than a kitchen knife and easier to control. They can also saw through the rind without being razor-sharp.

"When you're carving, stabilize the pumpkin by holding the top and pointing the blade down as you saw. And be careful not to put your hand inside the pumpkin when you're cutting," Avitzur said.

There are plenty of ways to involve children in pumpkin carving without letting them wield a knife. Have kids draw the pattern, and they can help clean out the pulp and seeds. That way, they will be part of the fun without risking a trip to the emergency room.