TRICKS TO AVOID TREATING PUMPKIN CARVING INJURIES
Middle Georgia families will visit pumpkin patches and pumpkin vendors this month, and then take pumpkins home to carve them into jack-o-lanterns. While pumpkin carving is as much a part of Halloween as trick-or-treating for children, it is crucial that safe practices are put into place.
We requested some great tips for spooky pumpkin carving from the American Society for Surgery of the Hand (ASSH) so that your family can safely enjoy the experience. “Each Halloween hand surgeons treat patients with cuts, or more severe injuries of the tendons, arteries, or nerves because of carving mishaps,” said Dr. L. Andrew Koman, president of ASSH. “Pumpkin carving can be safe, but parents need to be on guard for potential dangers. There are ways to avoid many of these injuries.”
The ASSH has outlined the following measures to help parents ensure the family is safe while carving:
Carve in a Clean, Dry, and Well-Lit Area
Wash and thoroughly dry all of the tools that you will use to carve the pumpkin: carving tools, knife, cutting surface, and your hands. Any moisture on your tools, hands or the table can cause slipping that can lead to injuries.
Only Adults Should Carve
Never let children do the carving. Parents may allow kids to draw a pattern on the pumpkin and have them be responsible for cleaning out the inside pulp and seeds. When the adults do start cutting, they should always cut away from themselves and cut in small, controlled strokes.
Children can participate safely by drawing how they want the carving to look. Free pumpkin-face templates/patterns can be had at www.carvingpumpkins.com.
Children can participate safely by emptying the seeds out of the pumpkin. They can also help prepare the seeds for baking. How do you bake them? Rinse the seeds, pat dry, oil a baking pan with 1 tablespoon oil, spread and toss the seeds in the pan, bake in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, turn out, and enjoy!
Pick Utensils Carefully
A larger and sharper knife is not necessarily better because it often becomes wedged 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. People are also injured when the knife slips and comes out the other side of the pumpkin where a hand may be holding it steady.
Before carving the face, scoop out about two cups or more of the flesh for a pumpkin pie. If you don’t have a recipe, use a sweet potato pie recipe, substituting the potato with equal parts of pumpkin. Pumpkin soup has recently become popular and is served in many gourmet restaurants.
If possible, use a Pumpkin Carving Kit
According to research by hand surgeons, pumpkin carving saws require less force to pierce the pumpkins than a serrated or a plain kitchen knife. Therefore, the carving saws may be less likely to cause injury. Injuries may still occur so families must exercise caution with any carving tool.
Decorate without cutting
The safest option is pumpkin painting or decorating. Kids can express their creativity with paint and other items that can be glued or attached to the pumpkin. They can paint freehand or use one of the templates mentioned above.
If an Injury Occurs
If an injury occurs such as a cut on the finger or hand, applying pressure to the wound with a clean cloth will often stop the bleeding. If continuous pressure does not slow or stop the bleeding after 15 minutes, or if the sensation, color or function of the finger(s) is otherwise diminished, consult a doctor.#