There is just about nothing that can get you more into the Halloween spirit than decorating your home with glowing jack-o’-lanterns. For many families, pumpkin carving is a favorite tradition in the weeks leading up to the spooky holiday. But every year, this tradition also brings with it nicks, cuts, piercings and, sometimes, trips to the emergency room.

Pumpkins are tricky, slippery and tough, and our carving tools are usually sharp — a risky combination to say the least, especially when kids are involved.

Safety Tips

Here are a few tips to prevent injury and ensure a fun, safe pumpkin carving experience for all:

  1. Give your pumpkin time – For the safest carving experience, let your pumpkin sit outside for a few days to let the skin soften. After you carve the pumpkin, your jack-o’-lantern should last between five and 10 days.
  2. Keep the kids away from the knives – Don’t let children carve pumpkins. Allow them to make decisions on design, use stencils or paint their pumpkins, but ultimately, adults should handle the cutting. If you have teenagers who want to carve, make sure they are supervised, and an adult is on hand to step in.
  3. Sharper is not necessarily better – You don’t have to use the sharpest knife in the house to get the results you want. Instead, look into purchasing a pumpkin carving kit. These kits contain cutting items that are, generally speaking, safer to use than a standard sharp kitchen knife and they are designed specifically to saw through a pumpkin’s tough skin.  Or, you could consider dispensing with the sharp instruments all-together by simply painting your pumpkin (a good alternative in households with young children.)
  4. Work in a clean, dry, well-lit area.
  5. Perfect your technique – Work slowly and steadily—don’t rush the project. Use small, controlled motions when carving and cut away from your body. Also, keep your free hand out of the way to avoid mishaps.
  6. Have a first aid kit on hand — If you cut yourself, apply direct pressure to the wound with a clean, dry cloth. If bleeding does not stop within 15 minutes, go to the emergency room.

Pumpkin Carving Safety Hack:  Instead of cutting the top of the pumpkin to reach your hands in and remove seeds and prepare for a candle or some sort of internal light, cut the pumpkin out at its bottom. This way, you can place the hollow, carved pumpkin over a lit candle or lighting device, instead of having to awkwardly reach inside the top of the pumpkin to light a candle and potentially burn yourself.