Why You Shouldn't Carve Pumpkins with Kitchen Knives

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Why You Shouldn't Carve Pumpkins with Kitchen Knives
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Why You Shouldn't Carve Pumpkins with Kitchen Knives

Now that you've picked the perfect pumpkin, it's time to roll up your sleeves and start carving! However, without the proper safety measures in place, pumpkins, with their unwieldy size, tough rinds and slippery "guts", can quickly become a risk for injury when carving. Read on to find out which tool you should be using, and learn our six essential tips to avoid injury.

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In a slightly creepy experiment from 2004, researchers from SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse tested conventional kitchen knives against pumpkin-specific carving tools to see if one was safer than the other - using human cadaver hands.

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In their research paper published in the journal Preventive Medicine, the researchers wrote that injuries from pumpkin carving can lead to "compromised hand function" even with the best hospital treatment. Hand punctures, which occur when the knife goes through the pumpkin and punctures the opposite hand holding the pumpkin steady, and lacerations, which are caused by hands slipping from knife handles and running against the blade, are among the most common injuries.

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According to the Smithsonian magazine's blog, the study compared a serrated kitchen knife, a plain kitchen knife and two pumpkin carving knives. Scientists measured the force needed to cut and pierce a pumpkin and then applied that force using the tools to lacerate a finger or puncture the palm of the human cadaver hand.

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Dissection of the limbs found that kitchen knives cut more easily into the hands and produced more skin lacerations that would require hospital treatment than the pumpkin tools, and team concluded that the pumpkin tools were safer.

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How can you keep it safe while carving pumpkins? Pay attention to these six safety tips this Halloween.

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Watch your hands.

Keep your hands in full sight, and hold the pumpkin from the top as you're carving. Your hand should never keep a pumpkin steady from behind; one poke or slice, and you can risk puncturing your hand, too.

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Saw, don't slice.

One expert pumpkin carver recommends using gentle sawing motions to carve rather than sweeping slices. Going slow prevents injuries.

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Save the tops for last.

If you carve your pumpkin before cutting off the top, you'll keep the workspace surface clean and dry and prevent yourself from sticking your fingers inside the pumpkin to keep it steady (and possibly injuring yourself).

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Keep everything dry.

The workspace surface, the cutting tools, the pumpkin and your hands should always be dry to prevent slipping. Be especially careful about pumpkin innards making the handles of your cutting tools slippery.

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If you absolutely must use a knife, keep it sharp.

We've been told time and time again that it's important to keep your knives sharp, and here's why: a sharper knife means fewer cuts and less chance of slipping.

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Supervise kids.

Let the kids help design the carving pattern or scoop out the pumpkin innards, but it's safer for adults to handle the carving.

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Now that you've picked the perfect pumpkin, it's time to roll up your sleeves and start carving! The practice of etching faces into pumpkins stems from an ancient tradition meant to ward away evil spirits; nowadays, the popular Halloween activity has become a creative way to add a festive feel to your home.

However, without the proper safety measures in place, pumpkins, with their unwieldy size, tough rinds and slippery "guts", can quickly become a risk for injury when carving. Plus, you may want to think twice before reaching for that kitchen knife. Discover which tool you should be using, and learn our six essential tips to avoid injury.

Check out the slideshow above to learn why the right knife matters and how you stay safe when pumpkin carving this Halloween.

We are showing you how to eat, drink and be scary this Halloween season.
Read more on Halloween on AOL:
America's 9 Spookiest Places to Spend the Night
21 Fab Ways to Decorate Your Home For Halloween
Thrift Store Halloween Costumes

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