For an injury-free Diwali

Festival Fallouts

Don’t let injuries from fire-crackers mar your Diwali, this year. Sujay Suresh Dangi shares tips on having a safe celebration

Diwali is a festival celebrated with enthusiasm throughout the country. Besides religious rites, delicious sweets, rangolis and family get-togethers, playing with firecrackers is an integral part of celebrating Diwali.  But injuries due to firecrackers are common. If proper precautions are not taken, the firecracker injuries can cause irreversible damage. There are many incidences of eye sight being lost due to injury from fireworks and there are cases of people suffering from burn injuries.  Sometimes, there can be damage to life and property due to fires caused by improper use of fire crackers. Also the crackers contain carbon, manganese, sulphur and other chemicals which can cause damage due to the thermal component present in them.

This year, you can celebrate Diwali safely by following these simple tips:

* Always purchase crackers from authorised dealers and shops. Cracker packets must have clear labels indicating the name of the item, the manufacturer’s name and instructions for proper use.  Don’t attempt to make your own fire crackers at home by mixing chemical powders.

* Crackers are to be lit only in open places (outdoors). Always ensure that the area is  devoid of all inflammable and combustible materials, before igniting the fireworks. Never ignite an aerial firework near an opening to a building and never use fireworks inside a vehicle or inside a room.

* Be sure that other people are out of range before lighting firecrackers.

* The use of crackers by children must always be supervised by an adult

* Firecrackers should never be ignited in containers such as fire hydrants. They should never be thrown at other people or flung in the air.

* Open flames from matches and lighters may cause additional fire hazards. Therefore, use a candle or an incense stick to ignite fireworks as they burn without an open flame, and provide a greater and safer distance between your hands and the fireworks

* Light only one firework at a time. Do not light any firecrackers in your own hand. Always maintain a safe distance from the fire crackers. Avoid bending over them.

* Hold lighted sparklers away from the body and face.

* Never re-light a firework which has not burnt properly or handle malfunctioning firecrackers. Douse and soak them with water and throw them away.

* Wear close-fitting garments of thick material instead of loose or loose hanging garments like sarees and dupattas. Wear cotton garments, not synthetic ones.

* Always keep a fire extinguisher or bucket of water nearby to extinguish any budding fire. Also, keep burn ointments handy

* Wear protective goggles while lighting fireworks to prevent eye injuries

* In case of burn injuries from crackers  hold the part affected under cold running water and take the person to the hospital immediately

* Try lighting noiseless crackers as they are just as enjoyable and a delight to the eyes as the other firecrackers. Noisy firecrackers can harm the ears, and may cause deafness

* Try to enjoy the firework displays within the timelines designed by the law as these fireworks also add to air and noise pollution

In case of an eye injury

* Don’t press the eye with the palm or hand, lest the injury gets compounded.

* Don’t tie a cloth across the eye firmly. This can cause undue pressure on the eye. Shield the eye from pressure. Protect the eye with a cup. Tape or secure the bottom of a clean ice-cream cup, milk carton or similar shield with cello tape against the bones surrounding the eye: brow, cheek and bridge of the nose.

* In case of a chemical injury, wash the eye well with clean water. It is better to avoid washing eyes in case of mechanical injuries.

* Don’t neglect any eye injury, however trivial. It is always better to rule out vision threatening problems.

* Do not rub the eye. If any eye tissue is torn, rubbing might push out the eye’s contents and cause more damage. Rubbing the eye is an automatic response to pain, but pressure will only do more harm. Take the child’s hand away from his or her face.

* Do not attempt to rinse out the eye. This can be even more damaging than rubbing.

* Avoid giving aspirin or ibuprofen (or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, called ‘N-SAIDS’) to try to reduce the pain. They thin the blood and might increase bleeding. It is better to by-pass the drugstore or medicine cabinet and get to the emergency room right away.

* Do not apply ointment or any medication. It is probably not sterile. Also, ointments make the eye area slippery. This could slow the doctor’s examination at a time when every second counts.

* Consult an eye specialist immediately in case of any eye injuries

(The author is Chief Optometrist at Titan Eye+.)


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