Diwali is a festival of lights. Unfortunately it also results in tragedies. The emergency services of most hospitals report a rise in burn cases on this day. Last year, the Burns Department of Safdarjung hospital reported 214 burns cases on Diwali day alone. This, when such mishaps can so easily be avoided. It only needs supervision and vigilance on the part of those celebrating the festival. Besides burns, other injuries like the loss of eyesight and bursting of eardrums may also occur.
Make sure children do not bust firecrackers unattended. Close supervision by an adult is essential.
Crackers should NEVER be ignited while holding them in the hand. Children may want to show off, but it has a very high chance of causing injury.
Fireworks should be ignited preferably using an agarbati or a candle. Apart from providing a steady flame, they also maintain a desirable distance between the burning end of the cracker and the hand.
Never burst crackers in closed places.
Children should point the firecrackers away from themselves and other people while lighting them
Light one firecracker at a time. It is very common for people to light rows of anars or "bombs" at a time, this should be avoided.
Aerial firecrackers should be lit in an open field and never in closed compounds and building premises.
Disposal of the crackers after they are spent is mostly ignored. Do NOT throw away half burnt crackers as they may fall on an inflammable object and cause fire. Crackers, after spent, should either be doused in water or in sand.
Never wear clothes with loose strings or flowing sashes. Children should preferably be dressed in trousers/pyjamas rather than frocks or elaborate dresses. Diwali attire should be practical and safe rather than gaudy and dangerous.
The material of the cloth is of utmost importance. Wear cotton or hosiery garments rather than silks and polyesters. The latter catch fire very easily and stick to the body making even a small injury assume dangerous proportions.
Make children wear footwear that is comfortable, closed and easy to run in. shoes are ideal. chappals or open sandals should be avoided.
Keep a bucket of water, sand and some burn ointments handy. The taps should preferably have a continuous running water supply on Diwali day.
In case a mishap does occur some first aid tips are:
If a person's clothes catch fire, roll him on the ground or wrap him in a blanket or coat or some thick cotton clothing to douse the fire. If such materials are not available, drench the person in water. Do not panic if blisters form. Blisters indicate that the injury is superficial and will heal well.
Do not allow the person to run about; air fans the flames and makes them worse.
In case of serious burns, do not try and remove the clothing since some of it may be stuck to the body. Instead, just wrap the patient in clean clothes and seek help.
Keep the burnt parts of the body elevated than the rest.
Loosen all tight clothing or accessories that the person is wearing. Accessories would include bangles, belts, ties, rings etc. these are difficult to remove later as the limbs start to swell up.
In case of minor burns, clean the area gently with cool water and cover with a clean, dry cloth. Do not apply cotton directly on the wound. Do not apply ice directly on the burnt area.
In case the eye is affected, wash with cold water immediately and continuously for about 10 minutes. If irritation continues, keep washing. If the victim is lying down, tilt the head to one side and pour water into the eye, from the inner corner outwards. Prevent the victim from rubbing the eyes.
Make this Diwali a joyous, safe and prosperous occasion for yourself and your children, by keeping some of these points in mind. Happy Diwali!