Carving pumpkins fun for families, but dangers lurk

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FORT MYERS, Fla. Carving pumpkins sounds pretty straightforward, but significant injuries can happen.

“Every year I do see patients that come in with a hand related injury,” said Dr. Stuart J. Elkowitz, an orthopedic surgeon with New York University’s Langone Medical Center. “Lacerations of digital nerves as well as flexor tendons.”

Below are some do’s and don’ts to help keep you safe:

  • Use tools that are sold specifically for pumpkin carving instead of kitchen knives. Several big-box retailers have pumpkin-carving tools available, including Target, Michaels and Amazon.
  • If you have to use kitchen knives, make sure they have short handles. Doctors also recommend not taking the top off before you carve your pattern. Doing so would set up your opposite hand to slip and get cut, Elkowitz said.
  • Don’t allow children to carve. Instead, give them tasks like designing the pattern and — if they like getting down and dirty — scooping out the pulp.
  • If you do get cut while carving, apply direct pressure on the injury using a clean, dry cloth. If bleeding doesn’t stop in 15 minutes, get to an emergency room.

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