For all the frivolous fun it involves, Halloween can be a dangerous time of year – and we’re not talking about urban legends of poisoned candy. In fact, injuries around the holiday typically have more mundane causes: candles starting fires, trick-or-treaters stepping into traffic, and hand injuries from pumpkin carving. According to the American Society for Surgery of the Hand (ASSH), Halloween is one of the top three holidays for causing emergency room visits, and the largest share of these visits involve hand and finger injuries. To ensure that the only blood on your jack-o’-lantern is the fake kind, follow these tips from the ASSH:
1. CARVE YOUR PUMPKIN IN A CLEAN, DRY, WELL-LIT AREA. Make sure your tools are clean and dry, too: Moisture can lead to slips, which can lead to cutting things other than your pumpkin.
2. USE ADULT SUPERVISION. This one is common sense: Do you really trust your kiddos alone with sharp knives?
3. LEAVE THE CARVING TO the GROWN-UPS. Let your kids be the creative ones, tracing or drawing their designs onto the pumpkin. But when it comes to the actual carving, let a grown-up take over. And really, carving isn’t all that fun. We all know the real excitement of making a jack-o’-lantern comes from scooping out the guts!
4. SHARPER ISN’T BETTER. Sharp knives can get lodged in the pumpkin’s thick skin, requiring more force to pull them out. Sharp knives may also pass all the way through a pumpkin, piercing your hand on the other side.
5. USE A CARVING KIT. Pumpkin carving kits are widely available and usually contain small, serrated saws that are designed to cut through pumpkins, not your fingers.
6. TREATING INJURIES. If you do cut yourself, apply direct pressure with the help of a clean cloth. This should stop bleeding from minor cuts to the hand or finger within 15 minutes. If the bleeding continues after that, however, you may need to visit the emergency room.