Society

How to stay safe during Deepavali

Just a gentle reminder to ensure that you take care of yourself this festive season

Protect your eyes

If you ask ophthalmologists (we did), there are high chances of injuring your eyes during this season, even if you take good care while lighting crackers. “Half of the patients we get are just bystanders,” says Dr Triveni Venkatesh, senior consultant at Dr Agarwal’s Eye Hospital in Chennai. The sparks from the crackers can either cause a superficial tear, or worse, internal bleeding.

When a foreign particle or chemical enters the eyes, do not rub or squeeze them. Wash them with running water, splash water on your face, or use a cool compress for relief.

In case the pain is unbearable while opening them, do not forcefully attempt to wash them. You don’t know what went inside, and that may cause more harm than good.

The best course of action in this case is to patch it up and immediately visit an ophthalmologist — no self-treatment, or over-the-counter ointments.

Your eyes will be exposed to heat and light for a long time, so it’s best to avoid wearing contact lenses, and wear glasses instead. Even if you don’t wear glasses regularly, use transparent goggles for protection.

Wash your hands before touching your eyes after you’ve handled the crackers or lit diyas.

Take care of your skin

With the increased exposure to chemicals in firecrackers, you need to take care of your skin. The possibility of burns from fireworks and lamps is high. Do supervise children when they’re lighting or playing around as well.

Sensible measures such as an open space for cracker-bursting activity (not a terrace), wearing cotton clothes while bursting crackers, specifically avoiding synthetic clothing and unsecured clothing like dupattas, for example, can make a difference.

Having ready first-aid available is important. This should include a bucket of water, some soft towels, some gentle soap and an agent like silver sulfadiazine cream.

For those allergic to sulpha, plain silver nitrate is available, which can be a temporary fix till you get to the doctor.

If a burn is sustained, rinse the area with plenty of water (don’t use ice cubes), and gently cleanse it with mild soap.

Avoid trying to peel the skin off, instead be very gentle; you are only trying to wash off the stuck-on dirt, not trying to remove burnt skin. Pat dry gently with the towels, without any pressure whatsoever and apply a thin layer of the silver nitrate. Head to the doctor right away.

Do not apply any other agent like baking soda or flour. This can complicate an otherwise simple burn, and can result in excessive scarring.

Secure your home

Keep electric lights away from metal poles or grilles to avoid any current leakage that can energise the pole and give an electric shock to anyone who touches it. Check the fairy lights, especially those that you use only once a year, don’t have loose wires or plugs, or worn-out ends.

Avoid using too many extension cords and adapters for multiple connections from a single wall socket. Call in the electrician to check fuse boxes.

Ensure lamps and candles are kept away from flammable material like wood, cloth or paper and electric wires.

Check whether your apartment complex or house has a fire evacuation plan laid out.

Each floor should have functioning fire alarms and fire extinguishers, and people around you (neighbours, family members) should know the ABCs of using it.

Trauma-free four-legged furballs

Deepavali can be a tough time for your pets, given their heightened sense of hearing. Watch out for symptoms of anxiousness such as salivation, trembling, excessive barking (in the case of dogs), loss of appetite, and aggressiveness. Follow these tips to smoothen the ride for them.

Keep your pets indoors in a familiar room, close the windows, draw the curtains to reduce the noise and keep them company.

However, if they need to hide, let them, just ensure that they have enough food and water. Take dogs for a walk during the daytime before the celebrations begin.

You can also feed them before the celebrations begin, as they may get too anxious later.

Up-root!

Remember why you celebrate the festival in the first place. Make like our ancestors and light an earthen lamp, exchange healthy, tasty treats and enjoy quality time with your family and friends. It’s a happy ‘Deep’avali, after all.

With inputs from dermatologist Dr Renita Rajan, Dr Triveni Venkatesh, the Tamil Nadu Fire and Rescue Services Department, Polycab wires and Humane Society International

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Printable version | Feb 19, 2020 10:31:47 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/how-to-stay-safe-during-deepavali/article25424751.ece

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