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Better safe than sorry this Diwali

Apart from being the festival of lights Diwali is also an occasion for various traditions to mingle together, but when it comes to celebration with firecrackers there is always an element of danger lurking. If on one hand, it brings joy and happiness, on the other, it also brings with it the possibilities of unforeseen tragedies. The fact that every Diwali, accidents and injuries due to fireworks rise substantiates the notion that it is better to be safe than sorry.If data is anything to go by, then in 2004 alone, sparkles, fountains and novelties accounted for 40 per cent of all emergency room fireworks injuries. As in most years, the majority of victims of fireworks injuries in 2004 were under 20 years, with the highest injury rates among children aged between five and nine. The same trend continued in 2005 as well.

Low awareness level

Doctors at Safdarjung Hospital here (which specialises in dealing with burn cases) agree that the graph of post-Diwali burn cases has gradually gone down in the last five years, but the awareness level is still low. Offering a word of caution, Dr. Vishwa Prakash, Unit Head of the hospital's Plastic Surgery Department, says, "Women and children should wear cotton clothes and use very safe and branded crackers." In the same breath, he adds that earthen lamps are often the triggering factor in a Diwali fire.Though 90 per cent of burn injuries are accidental and a majority of them can be avoided with some care, the absence of any standardisation and quality control regarding the manufacture of fireworks remains an important issue. We have the Explosives Acts and Rules, to monitor manufacture, storage and construction, etc., but unfortunately there is no restriction on use, age or venue.

First aid tips

Talking about the first aid procedures in case of burn injuries, Dr. Anup Dhir, Senior Consultant, Cosmetic Surgery, Indraprastha Apollo Hospital in New Delhi, says, "Pouring enough cold water on the affected area reduces the severity of burns." Though the clothing from the burnt area should be carefully removed, if it sticks to the skin then it should not be tampered with. Dhir advises people to wrap the burnt area with a dry cloth and visit the nearest doctor without delay. According to Dr. M.N Sharma, Plastic Surgeon, Holy Family Hospital, "Even a minor burn should not be taken lightly and a visit to a doctor is essential to rule out the risks of internal burns."So this Diwali, follow these safety tips.

  • Buy legally manufactured fireworks
  • Supervise children while they light fireworks
  • Never bend over fireworks while lighting
  • Never keep extra fireworks in pockets
  • Wear cotton clothes
  • Keep a bucket of water handy
  • ASHIRBAD S. RAHA AND GEETIKA RUSTOGI

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