Safety Tips for Pumpkin Carving


Chicago, IL- October 21, 2015 – With an estimated report of 4,400 Halloween-related injuries in 20131 and roughly 17.6% of Halloween injuries occurring to the fingers/hands2, hand surgeons encourage safety to avoid being spooked this year.

ASSH members Dr. Steven H. Goldberg of Geisinger Health System in Pennsylvania and Dr. Aaron Daluiski of the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York both agree that most of the injuries they see each year related to pumpkin carving accidents occur in adults.  Injuries from pumpkin carving can range from superficial lacerations to stab injuries and can even include burns from lighting a candle inside a jack-o-lantern.

The following precautions should be taken when carving pumpkins:

  • Never let children carve.
  • Use a pumpkin carving tool kit.
  • Dry your hands and tools before carving.
  • Carve the pumpkin away from the body on a flat surface.
  • Remove the seeds with a spoon.
  • Start carving your design at the top of the pumpkin and work down.
  • Stabilize the pumpkin by placing your spare hand on top of it.
  • Step back at least two arm’s length away if you are not the carver.

Other ways to stay safe include avoiding the pumpkin carving process completely by using carveless, virtual pumpkins or pumpkin decorating kits.  If you still choose to carve pumpkins, Dr. Goldberg recommends hollowing out the pumpkin through a hole in the bottom instead of the top.  “Instead of reaching into a narrow hole to light a candle and burning your finger or trying to pull your hand out and getting stuck, it is less risky to place a candle in a holder on a flat surface.  Then place a pumpkin…over the top of the previously lit candle,” he explained.

If you are injured while pumpkin carving, wash the wound with soap and water and use a bandage while applying pressure.  Most superficial wounds stop bleeding within a few minutes, and avoid checking the injury too frequently to see if it is still bleeding since this could disrupt a clot.  Dr. Goldberg added, “You should seek medical attention at an emergency room if bleeding does not stop within 10-15 minutes of firm pressure or if you have any new numbness, tingling, severe pain or loss of motion of any finger joint.”

  1. The DIY Halloween.  Consumer Product Safety Commission OnSafety website.  Published October 29, 2014.  Accessed October 20, 2015.
  2. Avoid frightening injuries this Halloween.  The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons newsroom website.  Published September 10, 2013.  Accessed October 20, 2015.

For More Information 
To identify a local hand surgeon spokesperson in your market, please call Tara Spiess, ASSH, at 312-880-1900.  Please also visit for more information on hand safety.

About Hand Surgeons
Hand surgeons have received specialized additional training in the treatment of hand problems in addition to their board certified specialty training in orthopedic surgery, plastic surgery or general surgery.  To become members of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand, hand surgeons must have completed a full year of such additional training and must pass a rigorous certifying examination.

Many hand surgeons also have expertise with problems of the elbow, arm, and shoulder.  Some hand surgeons treat only children, some treat only adults, and some treat both.  Common problems treated include carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow, wrist pain, sports injuries of the hand and wrist, fractures of the hand, wrist, and forearm, and trigger fingers.  Other problems treated by hand surgeons include arthritis, nerve and tendon injuries, and congenital limb differences (birth defects).

Not all problems treated by a hand surgeon require surgery.  Hand surgeons often recommend non-surgical treatments, such as medication, splints, therapy, and injections.  

About the ASSH
The mission of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand is to advance the science and practice of hand and upper extremity surgery through education, research, and advocacy on behalf of patients and practitioners. 

Tara Spiess
822 W. Washington Blvd., Chicago, IL
Ph: 312.880.1900