Published 10/6/2021

Carve the Pumpkin, Not Your Hand!

Common Halloween injuries according to orthopaedic surgeons

ROSEMONT, Ill. (October 6, 2021)―The Halloween season is filled with thrills and fun, but also potential danger. Pumpkin carving, costumes, unfamiliar homes, and young children traveling in darkness all provide possible scenarios for accidents and injuries. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) urges children and adults to take proper precautions to ensure a safe Halloween.

Research from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission shows that between October and November 2018:

  • Nearly 2,700 Halloween-related injuries involved trips and falls.
  • 44% of Halloween-related injuries were related to pumpkin carving activities.
  • 27% of the injuries included lacerations, ingestions, and costume, pumpkin or decoration-related injuries

“There is a reason Halloween is called ‘fright night’ — it is, after all, the spookiest night of the year. But there is another interpretation of that term that concerns orthopaedic surgeons in the emergency department: a spike in trauma injuries,” said orthopaedic hand surgeon and AAOS spokesperson Craig Phillips, MD, FAAOS. “It is important for parents to establish clear boundaries with their kids and teach them safety tips to ensure they have a positive experience, rather than having to visit the hospital. Using proper pumpkin carving instruments and cutting away from the body is just one way to avoid musculoskeletal injuries.”

The AAOS offers the following Halloween injury prevention tips:

Pumpkin Carving

  • Use a pumpkin carving kit or knives specifically designed for carving. These are less likely to get stuck in thick pumpkin skin. Some Halloween carving devices, designed especially for older children, may be safe for use with parental supervision.
  • Carve pumpkins in a clean, dry and well-lit area, and make sure there is no moisture on the carving tools or your hands.
  • If you are cut, apply pressure with a clean cloth and elevate the injured area above the heart. If bleeding does not stop within 10-15 minutes or if the cut is deep, you may need to contact your doctor. Make sure cuts are cleaned and covered with clean bandages.
  • If after a cut, you experience any limitation in joint motion, numbness or tingling see an orthopaedic surgeon as soon as reasonable.
  • Avoid candles in Halloween pumpkins and other decorations. Instead, use non-flammable light sources, like glow sticks or artificial pumpkin lights.


  • Children younger than age 12 should be accompanied by an adult. Parents of older children should plan a safe trick-or-treating route together and set specific times for children to check-in and return home.
  • Older children trick-or-treating without parents should be reminded to always stay together.
  • Walk on sidewalks and never cut across yards or driveways.
  • Cross streets at designated crosswalks and obey all traffic signals.
  • Both children and parents should carry flashlights to see and be seen.
  • Approach houses that are well lit. Remind children to never enter a home to obtain a treat.
  • Be aware of neighborhood dogs when trick-or-treating. Remember that these pets can pose a threat when you approach their home.
  • Carry a cell phone while trick-or-treating in case of an emergency.
  • Be sure to throw away any unwrapped or spoiled treats.

Ladder Safety while Hanging Decorations

  • Check the ladder for any loose screws, hinges or rungs.
  • Never place a ladder on ground or flooring that is uneven.
  • Place the ladder in well-lit areas and avoid tripping hazards such as loose electrical extension cords across walking paths.
  • The highest standing level on a stepladder should be two steps down from the top.
  • Make sure the soles of your shoes are clean so they do not cause you to slip off the ladder rungs. Do not wear leather-soled shoes because they can be slippery.
  • It is always better to move the ladder than to overreach.
  • Never climb a ladder without someone nearby who is able to spot you.

For more information on Halloween injury prevention, visit

To schedule an interview with an AAOS expert about common musculoskeletal injuries resulting from Halloween fun, email

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About the AAOS
With more than 39,000 members, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons is the world’s largest medical association of musculoskeletal specialists. The AAOS is the trusted leader in advancing musculoskeletal health. It provides the highest quality, most comprehensive education to help orthopaedic surgeons and allied health professionals at every career level best treat patients in their daily practices. The AAOS is the source for information on bone and joint conditions, treatments, and related musculoskeletal health care issues, and it leads the health care discussion on advancing quality.

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Contact AAOS Media Relations 

Deanna Killackey 


Lauren Riley