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Pumpkin-carving tips to keep your family safe

October 20, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Halloween means costumes, candy and pumpkin carving. But unfortunately, creating a Jack O'Lantern can have its dangers.

Every year, the tradition lands families in the emergency room.

According to a study published in the journal Pediatrics, Halloween is among the top holidays producing the most ER visits for kids, mostly due to finger and hand injuries.

"Every year, I would see typically two to three patients in the adolescent age range that sustained a pumpkin carving injury," said Dr. Stuart Elkowitz.

Hand surgeons, like Elkowitz, have to repair the damage.

"The most common injury I have seen with the pumpkin carving injuries are lacerations to the flexor tendons, which are the tendons that bend your finger," Elkowitz said.

Consumer Reports medical adviser Dr. Orly Avitzur has some tips on avoiding a Halloween accident.

"Pumpkins are slippery, and knives are sharp," said Avitzur, "That's just a bad combination. Instead, pick up one of these pumpkin-carving kits, which are available just about everywhere these days."

The tools are smaller than a kitchen knife, and they're easier to control. They can also saw through the rind without being razor-sharp.

"When you're carving, stabilize the pumpkin by holding the top and pointing the blade down as you saw," Avitzur said. "Be careful not to put your hand inside the pumpkin when you're cutting."

Hopefully that advice will treat you and your family to a happy Halloween.


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