There’s nothing like carving a pumpkin to get into the Halloween mood. But if you don’t do it safely, you might spend time in an emergency room instead of out trick-or-treating with the rest of the witches, ghosts, and goblins.

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“The most common accidents associated with pumpkin carving are stab wounds to the fingers and palm,” says Stuart J. Elkowitz, M.D., assistant clinical professor at NYU Langone Medical Center in the division of hand surgery. Every year, he says, he sees approximately three to five injuries in adults and children from pumpkin carving mishaps. Often, the index finger is punctured, he says, which can damage tendons, nerves, or arteries.

Carving this fall favorite is risky because pumpkins can be both slippery and tough. So, for instance, if your knife sticks in the rind, then dislodges abruptly as you tug it out, you may accidentally slice your supporting hand. You can also cut yourself if the knife handle becomes slick with pumpkin pulp, and your hand slides down the blade.

Here are five pumpkin carving safety tips to employ this year:

1. Use the Right Tools

Instead of the knives in your kitchen, use the specialty tools in a pumpkin-carving kit—readily found online and in convenience stores and designed for pumpkin carving safety. These tools can saw through rinds, poke holes, and scoop out innards without being razor-sharp. The instruments are also generally small, which makes them easier to control than most knives and easier to use when making intricate cuts.

2. Carve Your Pumpkin With Its Top On

“That way you won’t be tempted to put your hand inside and cut toward your hand,” advises Elkowitz. He also recommends holding the top of the pumpkin to stabilize it and cutting with your carving instrument's blade pointing down. 

Better still, Elkowitz says, instead of removing the top of the pumpkin to scoop out the insides, cut a hole in the bottom. If you're using a candle inside your pumpkin, you can then place the carved pumpkin on top of the lit candle—rather than awkwardly reaching inside the pumpkin to light the candle. 

3. Keep Things Clean, Dry, and Bright

For pumpkin carving safety, work in a clean, dry, and well-lit area, keep your hands and tools clean and dry, and take your time.

4. Don’t Let Kids Carve

Children 14 and younger should not do the actual carving, says Elkowitz. Instead, for pumpkin carving safety, have them draw the pattern with a marker and clean out the pulp and seeds with their hands or a spoon—but make sure an adult does the actual cutting.

It’s important to supervise older teens, too. Elkowitz notes that adolescents often become patients because parents think they’re responsible enough to be left on their own to carve pumpkins.

5. Know First Aid

If you or a family member gets cut while carving a pumpkin, apply direct pressure to the injury using a clean, dry cloth. If bleeding doesn't stop in 15 minutes, get to an emergency room or urgent-care clinic.