(ARA) - The American
Society for Surgery of the Hand (ASSH) urges pumpkin carvers to
use caution this Halloween season and take steps to prevent hand
injuries when carving.
“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, M.D., an ASSH member from The Hand Center of Western Massachusetts,
Springfield, Mass. “Treatment can often run three to four
months from the time of surgery through rehabilitation.”
To prevent hand injuries, the ASSH suggests the
following safety tips:
* Carve in a Clean,
Dry, Well-lit Area
Wash and thoroughly dry all of the tools that you
will use to carve the pumpkin: carving tools, knife, cutting surface,
and your hands. Any moisture on your tools, hands, or table can
cause slipping that can lead to injuries.
* Always Have Adult
“All too often we see adolescent patients
with injuries because adults feel the kids are responsible enough
to be left on their own,” says Wint. “Even though
the carving may be going great, it only takes a second for an
injury to occur.”
* Leave the Carving
Never let children do the carving. Wint suggests
letting kids draw a pattern on the pumpkin and having them be
responsible for cleaning out the inside pulp and seeds. When the
adults do start cutting, they should always cut away from themselves
and cut in small, controlled strokes.
* Sharper is not Better
“A sharper knife is not necessarily better
because it often becomes wedged in the thicker part of the pumpkin,
requiring force to remove it,” says Wint. “An injury
can occur if your hand is in the wrong place when the knife finally
dislodges from the thick skin of the pumpkin. Injuries are also
sustained when the knife slips and comes out the other side of
the pumpkin where your hand may be holding it steady.”
* Use a Pumpkin Carving
Special pumpkin carving kits are available in stores
and include small serrated pumpkin saws that work better because
they are less likely to get stuck in the thick pumpkin tissue.
“If they do get jammed and then wedged free, they are not
sharp enough to cause a deep, penetrating cut,” says Wint.
Should you cut your finger or hand, bleeding from
minor cuts will often stop on its own by applying direct pressure
to the wound with a clean cloth. If continuous pressure does not
slow or stop the bleeding after 15 minutes, an emergency room
visit may be required.
For more information about the American Society
for Surgery of the Hand and its free “Find a Hand Surgeon”
service offered to the general public, please visit: www.handcare.org.
The mission of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand is
to advance the science and practice of hand surgery through education,
research and advocacy on behalf of patients and practitioners.
The field of hand surgery deals with both surgical
and non-surgical treatment of conditions and problems that may
take place in the hand or upper extremity (from the tip of the
hand to the shoulder). Hand surgeons can set fractures, provide
appropriate nerve care, treat common problems like carpal tunnel
syndrome and tennis elbow, reattach amputated fingers, create
fingers for children born with incompletely formed hands, and
help people function better in their day-to-day lives through
restoring use of their fingers, hands, and arms.
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