Halloween is supposed to be a time of fun and excitement, but oftentimes in the rush to plan, prepare and decorate, we overlook safety precautions we should be taking. And then instead of attending that fun Halloween party or trick or treating, we are waiting in the emergency room of the local hospital (most often to get stitches)! While no one wants to put a damper on the fun, taking some common sense safety precautions will help insure that the magic of Halloween is not dampened by the unexpected accident. While there are many things that we should be cautious about with Halloween, like costume safety, crossing streets while trick or treating and food safety, we will focus on the most common types of accidents that occur around Halloween. These usually involve problems that have occurred while carving a Halloween pumpkin. So for the safest Halloween possible, here are some safety tips for carving a Halloween pumpkin.
•It all starts when you go to choose a pumpkin. Be sure and wear proper clothing and shoes if you plan to pick your own pumpkin from the patch. While most pumpkin patch farms are well maintained and easy to navigate through (since they make their money this way) you still need to remember this is nature and vines can be sharp and the ground uneven. It’a lot of fun to get your pumpkin this way, especially if children are involved, but if you don’t live near a patch or just want the ease, there’always the grocery store.
•You should make sure that the pumpkin sits evenly and does not really roll around. This will make carving a lot easier and lessen the risk of the pumpkin rolling as you go to make a cut. In addition, make sure where you are carving your pumpkin is safe and stable. While it may seem humorous to think of a half-carved pumpkin and a collapsed table, it won’t be funny when you are trying to get ready for Halloween.
•Now that you are ready to go, remember to always carve in a clean, dry and well-lit area. Be sure to wash and thoroughly dry all of the tools that you will use to carve the pumpkin. This includes any carving tools, the knife, cutting surface and your hands. Any moisture on your tools, hands or table can cause slipping that can lead to injuries.
•No matter the age of the children involved, always have adult supervision. Doctors report that they see many adolescent patients with injuries because adults feel the kids are responsible enough to be left on their own. Even though the whole carving process may be going great, adults need to remember that it only takes a second for an injury to occur.
•It is best to leave the actual carving to adults. Never let children do the carving. Kids can help by drawing the pattern on the pumpkin or being responsible for cleaning out the seeds and pulp. And when the adults do start cutting, they should always cut away from themselves and cut in small, controlled strokes.
•Remember that sharper is not better. Sharper knives are not always better since it can become wedged in the thicker part of the pumpkin, and require 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. Injuries are also sustained when the knife slips and comes out the other side of the pumpkin where your hand may be holding it steady.
•Consider using a pumpkin carving kit. There are special pumpkin carving kits that are available in stores and include a small serrated pumpkin saw that works better because they are less likely to get stuck in the thick pumpkin tissue. And if they do get jammed and then wedged free, they are not sharp enough to cause a deep, penetrating cut if they come in contact with someone’hand.