The Art of Carving A Pumpkin (Instead of Your Hand)Posted by hclibrary on Oct 15, 2012 in Safety | 0 comments
“Every Halloween season we see four or five patients — both adults and children — who come into our office with severe injuries to their hands and fingers,” says Jeffrey Wint, MD, a member of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand from The Hand Center of Western Massachusetts. “Treatment can often run three to four months, from the time of surgery through rehabilitation.”
These injuries are more than just faceless statistics or random weirdness that gets captured in horrific YouTube videos. For example in 2010, Brad Gruner, starting quarterback for the University of New Mexico’s football team had his season cut short when he cut a tendon in his throwing hand while carving a pumpkin. And Anita Lo, owner of the West Village Restaurant Annisa and whom some of you might recognize from Top Chef Masters, had a similar accident in her teens. It is said it even dashed her hopes of becoming a pianist.
There is, however, no reason anyone need suffer a life/career-changing injury or end up in a creepy YouTube video. You can find pumpkin-carving safety tips all over the place from PediatricSafety.Net to the Pumpkin Nook. The most basic things to keep in mind are these:
- Make sure the area where you are working in is well-lit and dry. And, after cleaning out the pumpkin really well, make sure it too is as dry as you can get it to help prevent any tools from slipping.
- Use the proper tools. Most places recommend a long, serrated knife, or, even better, there are now pumpkin-carving knives and kits designed just for this purpose.
- Most places suggest only those 14 years or older carve, and always with supervision or someone nearby in case of injuries. Point knives away from you and use a slicing or sawing motion. NEVER force the knife. And always make sure your free hand is not in the path of the knife. (Also bold and simple patterns may make for easier carving if you’re a beginner.)
- If you’re using a candle to light your Jack-o’-lantern, never leave it unattended. In fact, the safer way to go, may be to use flameless candles or battery-operated votives.
Let’s face it, Halloween is still mainly for kids, and pumpkin-carving safety doesn’t always allow for them to get in on the action. So keep your kids part of the process, but in safe ways. Let them help pick the pumpkins (even if their choice isn’t the one that is the perfect shape). Have them help scrape out the “guts”; they should need nothing more dangerous than a spoon or slimy fingers. Let them have a say in the design. And of course let them participate, after the carving or with their own non-carving pumpkin, with markers, non-toxic paints, stickers, glitter glue, and other safe craft items. And, for you master carvers out there, check out some resources on clever carving, such as Pumpkin Carving, Halloween Crafts: The Complete Guide to Carving the Perfect Pumpkin, and Extreme Pumpkins II: Take Back Halloween and Freak Out a Few More Neighbors. Just make sure you’re safe while making your spooky masterpiece.