Enjoy Halloween frights, just don’t cut yourself

Enjoy Halloween frights, just don’t cut yourself

Avoid a real scare this Halloween — a trip to the emergency room — by preventing the No. 1 injury reported on this spooky holiday: finger and hand wounds associated with pumpkin carving.

Here are some tips to carve without fear this year:

First, make sure your workstation is well-lit and organized. Have jars or trays in place to hold your tools when they’re not in use. Make sure your work area, tools and hands are dry to avoid slippage.

Next, step away from the chef’s knife. Short, serrated blades are safer, and work better for carving. The specialty pumpkin-carving tool sets for purchase at retail stores are very effective at scooping, sawing and puncturing pumpkins — and their small size and dulled edges are much safer.

Experts recommend that you wait to remove the top of the pumpkin until after carving is complete. That way, there’s no temptation to put your hand inside the pumpkin and cut toward it. Hold the top of the pumpkin down to stabilize it and point the blade down. Always point the knife’s edge away from you and use small, precise strokes versus force. Be mindful of your stabilizing hand — it’s possible to accidentally slice all the way through the pumpkin.

Don’t let children 14 or younger carve by themselves; statistics show that most Halloween-related ER visits involve kids between 10 and 14. Instead, let them draw on the pattern and help scoop out the pulp. Or you might have them paint the pumpkin or decorate it with markers or glitter.

Lastly, forgo the fire hazard — finish your jack-o’-lantern with a flameless candle or a battery-powered light.

Keeping these tips in mind, treat yourself to a safer Halloween.

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