During October in New Orleans, Halloween safety is a huge concern. Rightfully so, as it’s generally a holiday celebrated at night with kids running excitedly in the streets, candy being handed out by strangers, costume safety concerns, and a myriad of other potential hazards. Not only that, there are big events happening in New Orleans like the Voodoo Music Experience. While there are plenty of potential dangers on Halloween night, one of the most overlooked activities that could cause potential harm is the carving of the jack o’ lantern. However, with a little awareness, this fun family activity can go off without a hitch!
Because most injuries which occur when carving a pumpkin deal with the hands, these cuts can be tricky. Based on the nature of where tendons and nerves lie in the hand, the difference between a minor cut that will heal relatively quickly and a major wound that could potentially require surgery is razor thin. Wear gloves if you can while carving your pumpkin. While this won’t prevent any major accidents by itself, it can help in avoiding the minor cuts that may happen because of a quick slip of the knife. Gloves can also increase your grip on the cutting utensil. Thicker gardening gloves are generally recommended.
Make sure that the area you’re working in is clean, well-organized, well-lit, and dry. Any moisture on the table, cutting utensils, or your hands can cause you to slip with the knife and possibly cut yourself or someone nearby if you’re carving in a group. Be mindful of your knife handle. It’s easy for the handle to get wet during the process of carving, so make sure you keep it dry. Don’t handle the slippery pumpkin flesh with your bare hands and then grab the knife to keep cutting. As stated before, gloves with some thickness and gripping are preferable when carving.
When it comes to your knife, it’s not always best to use the sharpest knife available. While sharper knives give you more control when chopping food in the kitchen, carving a pumpkin is different in several ways. A sharper knife may become more deeply wedged in the pumpkin, and it requires more force to pull it out. You want to avoid strong, sudden movements with a sharp knife to avoid injury. Any jerking or pulling on the knife could cause you to lose control and potentially harm yourself or others. Be patient when making your cuts, and try not to be hurried. Deliberate movements will help you avoid accidents. Along with sharpness, the length of your knife is also something that should be considered. If the knife is long and sharp enough, it may pierce through the pumpkin where your other hand is stabilizing it.
After your pumpkin is carved and the knives are put away, there are still dangers. There’s still the business of putting a candle inside your pumpkin to help it light up the night! Some pumpkin artists recommend cutting the bottom out of the pumpkin instead of the top. That way, you can lower the pumpkin down onto a candle without reaching your hand inside and potentially burning yourself with a lit match or lighter.
There are also specialized carving and scraping tools available for those who prefer to be extra cautious as well as battery operated lights to use in place of candles. Halloween is great fun, and potential dangers shouldn’t overshadow that! Take the proper precautions and enjoy the Halloween season! With the right amount of care and awareness, you’ll be spooking the neighborhood in no time!