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Pumpkin carving can be dangerous - safety tips from a Baystate hand surgeon

October 22, 2015
Halloween Jack O'Lantern

Before setting out to carve that magical jack-o-lantern, remember this: Halloween is one of the top three holidays that results in the most visits to your local emergency room.

“Pumpkin carving is a beloved part of the Halloween season for many families when adults and children pick up knives and other dangerous tools to create their scary jack-o-lanterns,” said Dr. Pranay Parikh of Baystate Hand and Wrist Surgery.

“Unfortunately, each year at this time we see hand and finger injuries, many of which are tendon lacerations, that are preventable,” he added.

Dr. Parikh and the American Society for Surgery of the Hand offer the following tips on how to prevent carving injuries and keep your family time fun and safe:

Clean Carving Area – Be sure you carving space is clean, dry and well-lit. Your hands should be dry, as should all of your tools.

Adult Supervision – Adults should always do the actual carving. Let the children draw an outline on the pumpkin and clean out the pulp.

Sharper Isn’t Better – Super sharp knives can get stuck in the pulp and be difficult to pull out. Instead, use a serrated pumpkin saw from a carving kit.

Proper Technique – Always carve away from the body, not toward the body, in case of a slip. Carve slowly and steadily.

Explore Alternatives – Pumpkin decorating kits are safe and equally fun.

“I recommend using only the tools provided in a carving kit for your pumpkins,” said Dr. Parikh about kits including stencils, carving saws and scoops.

For more information on Baystate Medical Center, visit