Happy & Safe DiwaliFrom time immemorial, Diwali has come to be referred to as the Festival of Lights. So much so that, it has become a cliche of sorts and percolated down to the sub–conscious levels of every Indian. Indeed, it is a festival all Indians irrespective of caste and creed look forward to. The fun and revelry associated with Diwali is unrivalled among the festivals of India. Unfortunately, although Diwali brings light into our lives both literally and figuratively, the lighting of fire crackers could pose a few health hazards and encourage a few mishaps along the way. And that is precisely where all of us need to be a little watchful so that we ensure that we have a safe and enjoyable Diwali. A festival we could reminisce about in time to come and not one that would leave a trail of unhappy memories behind which we’d much rather forget. Children seem to be particularly vulnerable to the possibility of mishaps during Diwali since they are the ones who are most enthusiastic about lighting fire crackers. However, even adults could do with some caution and care. Found below are some of the precautionary measures that are indicated to avoid mishaps and have a safe and happy Diwali.
When Lighting Fire Crackers
Light crackers in open spaces only.
Use cotton and/or khadi clothing while lighting fire crackers.
Do not light any fire crackers in your own hand.
Do not light crackers in closed tins or empty pipes.
Maintain a safe distance from the fire crackers. Avoid bending over them.
Try lighting noiseless crackers if you can. They are just as enjoyable and a delight to the eyes.
In case you suffer burns, hold the part affected under cold running water and take the patient to the hospital immediately.
Make sure you keep a tub of water handy while lighting fire crackers.
Beware, fire crackers could cause you grievous injury.
Happy and Safe DiwaliExperts are of the view, fire crackers could be a causative factor leading to numerous health hazards. Besides, they enhance noise and air pollution levels. The harmful chemicals emitted through smoke are known to cause asthma, allergic rhinitis, bronchitis and other respiratory problems. Moreover, the noise and dazzling light could cause optical as well as ENT–related problems. The blasting sounds caused by fire crackers which send the decibel levels soaring instantaneously could cause permanent or temporary impairment to the ear drums. All this is known to affect children, pregnant women, asthmatics and senior citizens much more than the rest of the population. They could experience irritability and watering of their eyes. What is a matter of concern particularly in the urban areas where pollution levels are high any how, is that during Diwali pollution levels are known to rise by about six to 10 per cent due to all the smoke and noise that fire crackers make. A comparative study of pollution levels before, during and after Diwali has indicated that nitrous oxide and sulphur dioxide levels rise considerably during the festive season. Besides, noise pollution levels hit a high of up to 120 decibels, which is beyond what is considered to be the normal range.
aarogya.com spoke to Dr. Belsare at the Ruby Hall clinic. Found below are excerpts of the conversation
What are the problems that arise due to the noise generated during Diwali?
There are two types of problems induced by noise. First, is sudden exposure to loud noise. And the second is a continuous exposure to it like in the case of industrial workers. This could result in temporary deafness. That is reversible. However, if the damage to ear tissue or perforation of the ear drums occurs then it could be cured only if the damage caused is not extensive. But, if the damage is severe then relative deafness could result that might well be of a permanent nature.
Which age group is the most affected?
An infant below one year of age is most vulnerable as the structures of the ear are very delicate. Besides, senior citizens are also quite vulnerable as the degenerative process brought on by ageing has already set in. Moreover, people with a heart condition, hypertension or hypotension and asthma could be faced with problems that could manifest as fatigue, headaches, irritability etc.
What precautions could be taken?
As for precautions:
Avoid lighting a continuous string of crackers that go on like gun–shots endlessly, for sometimes as long as seven to 10 minutes.
Wear ear plugs that would go a long way in minimizing the impact of the sound, at least to some extent.
Diwali is season of fun and revelry. It is a time of blessing and thanksgiving. That is when families, relatives, friends and neighbors come together to celebrate. Just make sure, the Festival of Lights does not bring about darkness in your lives. aarogya.com wishes you and your family a happy and safe Diwali.
Better To Be Safe Than Sorry, Say City Doctors
Diwali and fire crackers have almost become synonymous. Fire crackers provide such a visual delight and could indeed be appreciated from the aesthetic point of view. However, one cannot ignore the fact that fire crackers, if not handled with care and caution, could pose a serious health hazard to many who come in contact with them. They could bring about untold miseries to revelers and ruin their Diwali celebrations. Hence, the key is adopting a “safety first” approach. That would go a long way in ensuring that you have a happy and safe Diwali, and not a nightmarish one thanks to a mishap that could easily have been avoided.
We at aarogya.com had a tete–a–tete with some city–based medical practitioners and sought their views and opinions. The able medicos provided some insight into the problem, and gave us much food for thought. Dr. Shrirang Pandit, a plastic surgeon, shared the joy of the common man in bursting fire crackers. However, he sounded a note of caution. It could prove to be a dangerous proposition, he warned and added that everybody who handles fire crackers needs to be extra careful. He bemoaned the easy accessibility of potentially dangerous fire crackers to just about anybody, including a small child.
He pointed out two factors that made the whole exercise of handling fire crackers increasingly risky. People, he pointed out often wore synthetic clothes which could catch fire very easily and cause the wearer severe burns. Second, children light crackers without any adult supervision which often results in mishaps that could have been avoided, Dr. Pandit stressed. Another cause of concern, said the medico was the smoke emitted after a long chain of crackers is used. This causes suffocation and irritation in the eyes, he pointed out. Dr. Pandit especially cautioned against lighting fire crackers in one’s hand. Many a time, due to the presence of sweat on one’s palms, the label of the crackers could stick to one’s hand and the cracker could burst right in the hand, he observed. Sparklers (phuljadi), he felt were quite safe as they have a long stem. One could use an agarbatti to light crackers, Dr. Pandit suggested as it gave the user some time to get away from the cracker.
Finally, aarogya.com posed the golden question to these medicos. What does one do in case one suffers burns. The most handy thing available is water, they said. Do not waste time looking for a blanket, they stressed. Water performs two very crucial tasks. First, it douses the fire and second, it cools the body immediately.
The extent of injury depends on the intensity of heat and for how long the body has been exposed to it. Water should be poured on the affected part immediately in case of burns, and the victim be taken to the hospital. Second, it is very important to shift the victim of burns away from the site of the accident immediately. The heat and the smoke present could result in the victim losing his/her consciousness. In case water is not available, one could w rap the victim in a blanket or just roll him/her on the ground, doctors advise. As the burnt part comes under the body it cools down, they say. Another aspect of the mishap, if it occurs, that was pointed out by doctors was that clothes tended to stick to the victim’s body e specially if they happened to be synthetic clothing like nylon or terylene.
How useful are creams?
Creams are useful in case of minor burns but when burns are severe, water is the best source to save a persons life. This was particularly emphasized by the medical practitioners.
Some case studies
Ravi, who had just graduated was celebrating his Diwali with much gusto. Alas, little did he know, this Diwali was going to be fraught with so much danger for him. Holding three bombs in his hand, he lit one of them. Unfortunately, the label got stuck in his hands and all the bombs exploded in his hands one by one. This resulted in tremendous damage to his hand. Fortunately for him, it was taken care of later, and now the young man has landed himself a job.
Vinit, a young lad who was five years old last Diwali had fire crackers in his pocket. One of his friends, without thinking of the possible consequences of his act, lit the crackers which were still in Vinit’s pocket. That resulted in severe burns which affected his thigh and groin regions.
We at aarogya.com also had a word with Dr. Desarda, an ENT specialist. As was expected, the doctor had something to say about the levels of noise pollution during the festive season. He also blamed the air pollution levels which rise alarmingly, which together with the noise pollution caused ear, nose and throat related problems. The high levels of noise could cause permanent damage to the internal ear. Deafness and continuous ringing in the ears could also be experienced by many. Fumes emanating from fire crackers could cause laryngitis and other throat infections, Dr. Desarda cautioned.
The medicos were unanimous in their view. All of them felt, it was much better to adopt certain precautionary measures to ensure that one has a safe and accident–free Diwali. Indeed, in that alone lies the key to a truly happy Diwali. We at aarogya.com wish all our patrons and well wishers a safe and happy Diwali.
Emergency Tel. Nos:
Central Fire Brigade: +91 20 6126296
Intensive Care Center, (Surya Hospital): +91 20 4450050, 4458442
Sassoon Hospital: +91 20 6128000
Lifeline Ambulance: +91 20 4442329