Pumpkin Carving Injuries

Be Careful!

Local health officials said carving jack-o’-lanterns is the No. 1 cause of serious Halloween-related injuries nationwide among children between 10 and 14 years old.

Emergency Medical Services Authority spokeswoman Lara O’Leary said Oklahoma City area paramedics typically take about a dozen children each year to local hospitals with traumatic injuries related to Halloween activities. Sharp knives that stick into the sides of pumpkins are a leading culprit.

Dr. Ryan Brown, an emergency room physician at The Children’s Hospital at OU Medical Center, said he recommends the use of electronic lights instead of candles inside jack-o’-lanterns as well.

“That pumpkin can get very hot (with an open flame),” Brown said. “It can be just like getting hot wax on your finger with that liquid inside the pumpkin.”

One alternative could be skipping the jack-o’-lanterns altogether. Glenda Mosby, an Oklahoma City mother of three, said it only took one year of pumpkin carving before her family switched to pumpkin painting — though not necessarily because of danger.

“I made my kids pull all the nasty stuff out of … the pumpkins,” she said. “They didn’t enjoy that.”

O’Leary and Brown said costumes are another major source of injuries during the Halloween season. Masks can reduce visibility, longer pieces can cause children to trip, some materials may be flammable and ill-fitting costumes could cause friction burns or cut off circulation.

“And parents are limiting the amount of time children have to trick-or-treat, so the children feel like they have to get as much candy as they can before they have to come home,” O’Leary said. “They’re at a fever pitch, running around in clothes they aren’t used to in the dark.”

Brown said preparation is key to avoiding Halloween safety problems.

O’Leary and Brown said costumes are another major source of injuries during the Halloween season. Masks can reduce visibility, longer pieces can cause children to trip, some materials may be flammable and ill-fitting costumes could cause friction burns or cut off circulation.

“And parents are limiting the amount of time children have to trick-or-treat, so the children feel like they have to get as much candy as they can before they have to come home,” O’Leary said. “They’re at a fever pitch, running around in clothes they aren’t used to in the dark.”

Brown said preparation is key to avoiding Halloween safety problems.

“If you’ll just do a dress-rehearsal before the actual event, you may save yourself a couple hundred dollars from an ER visit,” he said.

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