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Pumpkin Carving: A Scary Tradition

Every year, families head to a local pumpkin patch to pick out a round, orange pumpkin and take it home to carve. While this tradition is charming and endearing, it can also end in a horrible, untraditional disaster. According to the U.S. Consumer Product and Safety Commission 64% of all Halloween-related injuries that occur between October and November have to do with pumpkin carving. This is because many young children are not able to carve their vegetable carefully and may slice themselves on a sharp knife in the process.

Pumpkin carving doesn’t only hurt children. In 2010, Brad Gruner, the former quarterback for the University of New Mexico football team, injured his throwing hand when he was trying to carve a pumpkin. This successfully put him out of the game. Another young woman says tells Consumer Reports that she was injured carving a pumpkin and the accident killed her dreams of being a professional piano player in the future. The sudden knife injuries are devastating but they are not rare. The EMT teams and doctors at emergency rooms say that they prepare for the onslaught of pumpkin carving accidents that occur around this time of year.

Stuart J. Elkowitz, M.D., a hand surgoen at Somers Orthopedic Surgery and Sports Medicine Group in Carmel, New York told Consumer Reports that the most common accidents that occur in connection the pumpkin carving are stab wounds. Carvers who over-estimate their strength will often punch through their pumpkin and into their hand, bringing on a terrible gash. Often people puncture their index finger when carving a pumpkin and this can cause damage to tendons, nerves and arteries. Research shows that the most common injuries on October 31st are always puncture wounds to the hand.

The journal Pediatrics says that a third of all accidents on Halloween are cuts, and most of these are in connection to carving a jack-o-lantern for the night’s festivities. Pumpkin carving injuries can be avoided if people use the right tools. Many stores sell pumpkin carving knife kits. These small knives have the ability to slice through the rind of a pumpkin but often don’t have the same slicing effect on the human skin. In addition to keeping your hands form harm, purchasing a pumpkin carving kit may help you to make a more intricate design. Consumer Reports recommends that you avoid taking the top off of the pumpkin before carving. This will reduce the temptation to get at the pumpkin from the inside, which is how many people cut their hands. You should take your time when carving a pumpkin and don’t let the kids carve.

The medical journal Pediatrics claims that most Halloween accidents happen to children that are between the ages of 10 and 14. If you have young children, you should give them hands-on help with their pumpkin carving, and don’t let them handle the knife. You can encourage your children to draw the design they want cut into the pumpkin, or clean out the pulp of the pumpkin all alone. The American Society for Surgery of the Hand announces that you should always carve your pumpkins in a dry, well-lit area. If the knives and pumpkin are wet, chances are that your hand will be slippery, which can cause a fatal accident. Remember that sharper is not always better when it comes to pumpkin carving knives. You may want to get a special serrated knife that will cut through the rind, rather than using your sharpest cutting knife. If you do get cut during this holiday activity, you should apply direct pressure to the wound with a clean cloth. If the bleeding does not lessen within 15 minutes, then an emergency room visit may be in order.

From all of us at Klemick & Gampel, we wish you a Happy Halloween and hope that you will be safe when carving your jack-o-lanterns this year. If you are injured in this tradition and there is a responsible party to blame, then you may want to contact a personal injury attorney at our firm to start litigation. For example, if your child was injured when carving a pumpkin at school without adequate supervision, or if you were hurt by another person who was carving a pumpkin and wielded the knife foolishly, then contact a lawyer to seek compensation from your offender. With the right attorney on your side, you may be able to obtain a settlement that can cover all medical bills, lost wages from recovery time, and pain and suffering.

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