I used to love carving Halloween pumpkins as a kid, and I luckily never cut a finger while doing so.  

But if you’ve purchased a pumpkin at your local farmer’s market or natural and organic food store, be aware that pumpkin-carving can result in serious lacerations to the hand and injuries to bones and tendons if precautions aren’t taken.  

“Halloween tends to encourage unruly behavior, so parents and other caregivers need to be especially vigilant to ensure that kids follow basic safety guidelines,” says Ronald Delanois, MD, an orthopedic surgeon and spokesperson for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.   

Here are some important tips from the AAOS:   

  • When carving pumpkins, use specifically designed carving knives, not kitchen knives. Carving knives are less likely to get stuck in the thick pumpkin tissue. Injuries can occur when a carver tries to yank a stuck knife from a pumpkin.
  • Never let children carve pumpkins. 
  • Adults carving pumpkins should remember to always cut in small, controlled strokes, away from themselves. 
  • Carving knives should be kept in a clean, dry, well-lit area. 
  • Any moisture on the tools, hands or table can cause the knife to slip, leading to injuries. 
  • If you cut a finger or hand while carving pumpkins, elevate the hand above the heart and apply direct pressure to the wound with a clean cloth to stop the bleeding. 
  • If continuous pressure does not slow or stop the bleeding after 15 minutes, an emergency room visit may be necessary. 
  • If there is any numbness in the fingers or an inability to move them, go the emergency room.