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Safety Tips for Jack-O-Lanterns

Making a Jack-O-Lantern for Halloween? Read this first.

The following is a release from Amica Insurance:

With Halloween just a couple days away, it’s time to carve the pumpkins! Amica Insurance is sharing some important safety tips for carving jack-o-lanterns – and lighting them as well.

“Pumpkin carving is a tradition for many families this time of year,” said Lisa St. Onge, an assistant vice president with Amica Insurance. “But carving pumpkins – and lighting them after they’ve been carved – can pose safety hazards for children as well as adults.”

That’s why Amica is sharing safety tips from the American Society for Surgery of the Hand (ASSH) and from the National Fire Safety Protection Association (NFSPA).

"Every Halloween season we see four or five patients — both adults and children — who come into our office with severe injuries to their hands and fingers," says Jeffrey Wint, MD, an ASSH member from The Hand Center of Western Massachusetts in Springfield. "Treatment can often run three to four months, from the time of surgery through rehabilitation."

The ASSH offers these pumpkin carving tips:

Carve in a clean, dry, well-lit area – Make sure the pumpkin, caring tools, cutting surface and your hands are dry. Otherwise, something could slip, leading to injuries.

Always have adult supervision – “All too often we see adolescent patients with injuries because adults feel the kids are responsible enough to be left on their own,” Wint said. “Even though the carving may be going great, it only takes a second for an injury to occur.”

Leave the carving to adults – Don’t let children carve their own pumpkins. They can be in charge of cleaning out the pulp and seeds and drawing faces or patterns on the pumpkins. But adults should do the actual cutting.

If a cutting injury occurs, apply direct pressure with a clean, dry cloth. If the bleeding doesn’t stop within 15 minutes, seek medical treatment.

After carving the pumpkin, the NFSPA recommends:

  • Use a moisture-proof flashlight, glow sticks or battery-operated candle instead of a real candle to illuminate it.
  • If real candles are used, make sure to keep children and pets away from them when they’re lit.
  • Keep jack-o-lanterns lit with candles away from decorations and other combustible materials

In addition, the NFSPA notes, make sure all Halloween decorations are kept away from open flames and heat sources such as light bulbs and heaters.

“We urge parents and children to follow these simple safety tips,” St. Onge said. “We want everyone to have a safe and happy Halloween.”

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