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Pumpkin Carving: Keeping It Safe


Halloween has emerged as the second-biggest decorating holiday of the year, with pumpkin carving clearly taking the lead. But carving a pumpkin can be dangerous, especially if you don't take the necessary precautions. Every year, people are treated in the emergency room with a range of hand injuries that occur while carving jack-o'-lanterns — a not-so-surprising fact when you consider that pumpkins are slippery and knives are sharp.

This Halloween, take note of the following safety tips before embarking on this holiday tradition:

Select the right pumpkin. As a basic rule of thumb, the smoother the pumpkin surface, the better. A pumpkin that's free of bumps is not only easier and safer to carve, but it will yield better results.

Play it safe with a carving kit. Forgo the kitchen knife for a store-bought carving kit that includes small, easy-to-control carving tools, a scooper, stencils and more. The tools are designed to saw through the rind and scoop out the insides of the pumpkin without being dangerously sharp.

Prepare your workspace. To avoid slippage, make sure your tools are dry and your work area is clean and adequately lit. A smooth, sturdy work surface is a must.

Keep the top on. Though it helps to stabilize the pumpkin with your free hand, it's never a good idea to put your hand inside the pumpkin. Keeping the top on the pumpkin helps protect your free hand from injury.

Make your kids the spectators. There are many ways small children can participate in the process, but the actual carving should be reserved for adults. If your kids aren't content with watching, let them scoop out the gooey pulp and seeds, use a marker to draw the design or paint their own creation.

Use the right carving technique. To cut the pumpkin, apply small, controlled strokes away from your body. Take your time and be wary of any cutting utensil that gets stuck in the dense part of the pumpkin. Injuries frequently occur when the cutting tool is dislodged, or when it slips and comes out the other side.

Forget the candles. Due to the potential fire hazard, candles should be avoided, especially when little ones are around. To achieve that special effect, opt for a battery-operated LED light instead.

Brush up on your first aid skills. It's always best to be prepared. If an injury occurs, use a clean, dry cloth to apply pressure to the cut or wound. And if the cut is serious, head to the nearest emergency room.

Carving pumpkins is a Halloween pastime that everyone enjoys. Keep it fun — and safe — with these easy-to-follow tips.


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