Pumpkin carving do's, don'ts

Significant hand-related injury can result in emergency room visit

SAN ANTONIO – Carving pumpkins for Halloween sounds pretty straightforward, but significant injuries can and do happen.

"Every year, I do see patients that come in with a hand-related injury. Lacerations of digital nerves, as well as flexor tendons," said Dr. Stuart J. Elkowitz, an orthopedic surgeon.

Consumer Reports health editor Catherine Roberts said staying away from kitchen knives is a good idea.

"Kitchen knives are sharp, and they'll slip around and it's really easy to cut yourself," she said.

If you have to use a kitchen knife, make sure it has a short handle.

Doctors also recommend not taking the top off the pumpkin before carving out the pattern.

"You're setting your opposite hand up for sustaining a penetrating injury," Elkowitz said.

If you want to play it super safe, only carve out the bottom of the pumpkin. Doing so will reduce the risk of getting burned.

Related: Where to find pumpkin patches in San Antonio

Roberts said to use a pumpkin carving tool, instead. 

"They're much smaller. They're much less sharp, and they're going to be much easier to handle as you're carving the tough pumpkin skin," she said.

Related: (Mostly) free Halloween celebrations in San Antonio

Roberts also suggests not allowing children to do the carving. They can still help by creating the patterns and scooping out the pulp.

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