NELSONVILLE – Jack-o’-Lanterns can be more than just scary — they may be dangerous. Although carving the perfect round, bright orange pumpkin at Halloween is great fun, it comes with the risk of accidentally cutting hands and fingers while using a sharp blade.
Halloween injuries are common to the hands but are most often associated with hot glue, sparklers and costume mishaps.
Pumpkin carving can result in cuts that are a lot more serious under the skin than they look on the surface. Unfortunately, as well as cutting the skin, deeper cuts may also sever tendons and nerves.
Pumpkin carving is the leading cause of injuries associated with Halloween, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Halloween is also the fourth-busiest holiday of the year for children to receive holiday-related injuries resulting in an ER visit. The three above Halloween are led by the five-day period around Labor Day, then Memorial Day and Independence Day.
Young children are unable to carve their orange vegetables to the best of their abilities due to underdeveloped motor skills and they may slice themselves on a sharp knife in the process.
According to the Safety Commission in a 2021 report, around 3,600 Halloween-related injuries were treated in U.S. emergency departments, nearly half of which were pumpkin-carving injuries.
More than one-quarter of Halloween-related injuries included cuts, ingestions and costume, pumpkin, or decoration-related injuries, and there were nearly 3,000 injuries involving trips and falls.
“I was cutting the top off, and I slipped, you can see where that went,” said Brooke Vermillion, a senior in the Sports Medicine lab at Tri-County Career Center and High School, while brandishing a cut on her hand.
When carving a pumpkin, experts advise to use a carving kit or knives specifically designed for the task. Carve pumpkins in a clean, dry and well-lit area. To avoid injury, wash and thoroughly dry all tools such as carving tools, knives and cutting surfaces. Any moisture left over can cause the tools to slip.
“You have to carve them outside to not make a mess and it’s freezing outside so my hands are numb and the inside of the pumpkin is slippery. So I just always slip and cut my hand,” Faye Lockhart, another senior at Tri-County in the Business Ownership program.
According to the Safety Commission, around 27% of Halloween-related injuries were from “falls involving hanging decorations, tripping on costumes, and while out walking during trick-or-treating.”
If someone suffers a cut, pressure should be applied with a clean cloth and elevate the injured area above the heart. If bleeding does not slow down and stop within 10 to 15 minutes or if the cut is deep, a doctor’s trip may be needed. Cuts should be cleaned and covered with clean bandages.
Although the majority of Halloween-related injuries are from pumpkin carving, there are many other ways individuals can get hurt, such as putting up decorations.
Before using a ladder to put up decorations, it’s important to check for loose screws and hinges. It is unsafe to place a ladder on uneven ground and flooring or on two surfaces such as a ruck and hardwood floor. Instead, it is smarter to place it in well-lit areas and make sure there are no tripping hazards, such as loose extension cords.
To prevent slipping while on the ladder, be sure that the soles of your shoes are clean. It is also smart and safe to have a spotter while on a ladder so they can move it when necessary instead of overreaching and risking the chance of a fall.
Stay safe while keeping spooky.
Addison Wright is a student journalist with Tri-County Career Center and High School’s Sports Journalism and New Media program.