Don't let the fun fizzle out

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CIRCLE OF FIRE Children should burst crackers under the supervision of an adult
CIRCLE OF FIRE Children should burst crackers under the supervision of an adult

PANKAJA SRINIVASAN lists some dos and don'ts to make Deepavali celebrations safer

While most people look forward to Deepavali, there are a few who are lukewarm about firecrackers that are part of the festival. That's because they're not only noisy but also lead to injuries. So, what should you do to make Deepavali celebrations safer for your children?

Educate children

First and foremost, says Mallika Neminathan, a paediatrician, "Parents should make it a point to educate children on the dos and don'ts before they buy them firecrackers. They should teach them the responsible way of bursting and disposing of crackers. A sand pit or a tub of water should be kept nearby so that burnt crackers can be discarded safely. Otherwise, there is the danger of children stepping on smouldering crackers lying around and suffering burns." P. Angeline Prema, also a paediatrician, says, "A cardinal rule is to keep firecrackers out of children's reach. Toddlers tend to put things in their mouth. Firecrackers contain poisonous substances, so it's wise not to leave them lying around." If your child has a wheezing problem, chances are that the smoke from firecrackers will aggravate his condition. "Many parents actually move to areas that are less polluted by fumes from crackers during Deepavali," says Dr. Angeline, but acknowledges that this is not a solution everyone can easily adopt. It's important to remember that sparks from firecrackers could injure one's eyes. It has been observed that the casualty wards of hospitals receive several patients with eye injuries caused by firecrackers during Deepavali. "Rockets and some kinds of firecrackers have an unpredictable trajectory. So it's advisable to keep a safe distance from them. Kids in their excitement throw caution to the winds and hence it is imperative that an adult supervises them," says Dr. Angeline. She warns adventurous teenagers against playing with firecrackers, especially taking them apart and making new ones of their own. Burns are an inevitable part of Deepavali. Major or minor, they should be treated at once. The first thing to do is wash the area with cold running water before taking the child to hospital. "Washing the affected area immediately with cold water can limit the degree of injury," say both the doctors.

Cotton is ideal

Before children play with fireworks, parents must ensure that silks and synthetic fabrics are avoided. It is safer to wear sturdy cotton clothes when playing with firecrackers, as they don't catch fire easily. Also remember to keep dupattas out of the way and hair tied up. Keep a bucket of water handy to douse small fires. No Deepavali celebration is complete without sweets and rich food. So, beware tummy troubles. Keep some home remedies ready. Dr. Mallika approves of sweets and goodies made at home. "Bought outside, there is always the question of hygiene," she says. And of course, Deepavali marundu helps digest all that scrumptious food.




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