halloween safety 5f62206caf758
Las Vegas Plastic Surgery

By Dr. Jeffrey Roth

Many people, young and old, wind up in the hurting themselves while carving a pumpkin. A review notes that there are several good sources of helpful information.

A general overview from the American Society for Surgery of the Hand, (ASSH):

Use caution during the Halloween season, and take steps to prevent hand injuries when carving. “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, an ASSH member from The Hand Center of Western Massachusetts in Springfield, Mass. “Treatment can often run three to four months, from the time of surgery through rehabilitation.”

1. Carve in a Clean, Dry, 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 table can cause slipping that can lead to injuries.

2. Always Have Adult Supervision

“All too often, we see adolescent patients with injuries because adults feel the kids are responsible enough to be left on their own,” says Wint. “Even though the carving may be going great, it only takes a second for an injury to occur.”

3. Leave the Carving to Adults

Never let children do the carving. Wint suggests letting kids draw a pattern on the pumpkin and having 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.

pumpkin carving safety tips from Las Vegas Plastic Surgery

4. Sharper is Not Better

“A sharper knife is not necessarily better, because it often becomes wedged in the thicker part of the pumpkin, requiring force to remove it,” says Wint. “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.”

5. Use a Pumpkin Carving Kit

Special pumpkin carving kits are available in stores and include small serrated pumpkin saws that work better because they are less likely to get stuck in the thick pumpkin tissue. “If they do get jammed and then wedged free, they are not sharp enough to cause a deep, penetrating cut,” says Wint.

6. Help for a Pumpkin Carving Injury

Should you cut your finger or hand, bleeding from minor cuts will often stop on its own by applying direct pressure to the wound with a clean cloth. If continuous pressure does not slow or stop the bleeding after 15 minutes, an emergency room visit may be required.

In addition, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department offers some great advice for staying safe on Halloween. They also ask that trick or treating be concluded by 9:00 pm.

Throughout the city, many schools and community groups host “Trunk or Treat” gatherings. This practice has grown in popularity in recent years and offers a safe alternative to conventional trick or treating. Participants line up their cars and costumed tricksters then go trunk to trunk as the parents of their classmates or other recognizable adults from their community hand out candy at each car.

Dr. Roth on MORE!

Here is some further advice from a television appearance I had made addressing the issue of maintaining safety when celebrating Halloween:

More Tips

Another excellent resource can be found on the website of Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles (CHLA). The injury prevention team put together a series of videos to guide one through safe pumpkin carving. Some of the main points include:

  • Safe Carving Tools to Use and Preparing Your Pumpkin Carving Surface: Maintain a clean and dry surface so the pumpkin or carving tools do not slip. Do not use knives or other household items to carve your pumpkin.
  • Safe Ways to Get the Kids Involved: There should always be adult supervision for children and teens 18 years and below. Safe activities we recommend are allowing young kids to design the carving pattern or scooping the pumpkin’s “guts” out. The actual carving should be done by an adult.
  • Explore Alternatives: Pumpkin decorating kits where kids draw and paint the pumpkin are safe and equally fun.  Stencils can help with this.  Also, “Mr. Potato Head” pieces can be placed into a pumpkin.
  • Stencils are Fun and Help with Safe Pumpkin Carving: Get your very own Children’s Hospital Los Angeles stencil here! There are two options. Enjoy!
  • Carve Your Pumpkin Before Cutting the Top Off. Here’s Why: You are more likely to stick your hand inside the pumpkin while carving and injure yourself. This also helps to maintain a clean and dry work space.
  • Use the Right Lights Inside Your Pumpkin: We recommend using flameless candles or glow sticks to light-up your jack-o-lantern. If you do use candles, the pumpkin should be supervised at all times.

Happy Halloween!!

With those safety tips in mind, we wish everyone a happy and healthy Halloween!

Jeffrey J. Roth, M.D., F.A.C.S.
Las Vegas Plastic Surgery
(702) 450-0777


American Association for Surgery of the Hand, (ASSH):

Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, (CHLA)

Comments are closed.