Diwali and fire crackers go hand in hand. Nothing can dampen the spirit of this festival of lights more than injuries from fireworks. While we are having fun, people working in fire departments and hospitals on call hoping they don’t get the call that someone has been seriously injured.
As we excitedly wait for the arrival of the most famous festival of India, here are a few safety tips to protect our kids.
Here are some important Diwali safety tips
Supervised fire cracker bursting by kids
Never allow kids to handle fireworks without adult supervision. Some households allow kids to burst crackers while the adults are busy watching Diwali specials on TV. This is a very dangerous habit because excited kids usually throw caution to wind.
Some kids are naturally scared of fireworks and some are not. This can sometimes turn into a dangerous game where the bold ones try to scare the scared ones by pushing them closer to fireworks or throwing fireworks near them.
Don’t wear loose fitting clothes
This is a recipe for disaster. Though the temptation is strong to show off the pretty Diwali dress, it is safer to wear cotton dress that has a lesser tendency than a synthetic dress to catch fire from sparks.
Dresses catch fire not only from candle flame (as usually shown in our movies), but there is another unnoticed danger where small sparks can fly and burn our dresses.
Shoes are a must to avoid stepping on something hot.
Kids should be instructed to hold sparklers away from their body. If a person’s dress catches fire, “Stop Drop and Roll” to put out the flames.
Sometimes even with proper precautions, accidents do happen. Keep the doctor’s number handy in case of any emergency. Have a first aid kit handy.
Keep a bucket of water and sand or a small portable fire extinguisher around to douse fire.
Minor burns can be treated by washing the affected area with water. Then the burn can be treated with burn ointments like burnol or Aloe vera gel.
In case of serious injury, rush the victim to the hospital immediately. Avoid any kind of tight pressure or adhesive bandage on the affected area.
Fireworks have to be lit in an open ground or park especially rockets. Make sure there is nothing inflammable (like gas cylinder or gas station) near the location.
Earthen lamps lit during Diwali should be placed away from curtains and other flamable items that can come in contact with the flame because of breeze from the fan or from outside.
Rockets should not be lit in crowded places or where there are trees that can obstruct it and change its direction towards the ground.
Clean up after the fun
Many crackers contain toxins and it’s better to rinse yourself off after the fun.
Have a spot where every one should discard their used up fireworks after each use.
5 years ago, my nephew and his friends made a bonfire out of burnt fireworks on the morning after Diwali. It had some unburnt fireworks and it went like missiles in all directions for a few minutes in that crowded neighborhood. A 10th standard girl got hurt and her mom had to rush in risking her life to drag the girl and hide in the bathroom. A few things in that house caught fire. Luckily there was no loss of life. All the kids got an earful from their parents because the kids had been specifically warned not to do this.
Sometimes kids get into a competition mode where the kid who has the most amount of paper strewn outside his home wins. Some kids who have tried to move some of the paper closer to their house door have accidentally stepped on smouldering fireworks.
Teach kids about the dangers of showing off and taking unnecessary risks.
Safe methods to burst crackers
Read instructions carefully.
Burst crackers by keeping them on the ground and not by holding them in your hand. Kids imitate adults so practice safe methods for the sake of your kids.
Teach them to have a safe distance between them and the cracker. They have to ignite fire crackers at arms length.
Having additional fireworks in their hands and pockets puts your child at risk.
Instruct them about the dangers of lighting used fireworks.
Candle or agarbathis are safer than match sticks.
When I was little, one kid got severely hurt because he opened a lot of crackers to collect the powder to make his own cracker. Kids have to warned about these dangers.
Don’t bend over the fireworks being ignited.
Don’t ignite fireworks in any container. Rockets in bottles are dangerous. Rocket launchers have to be used.
Remember that we are contributing to the increase of air and noise pollution when we use fire crackers.
Be considerate to neighbors especially if you have sick / old neighbors.
Pets and babies are the most affected during Diwali. Ear plugs can help protect young babies from ear damage. We lost a pet cat that got so terrified that it ran away in fear and got lost. We searched for days but could never find her.
Spread the Joy
Festivals are more about sharing than about fire works. Give a surprise gift to those who make your lives run smooth through out the year. You cooks, drivers, maids and watch man will bless you for this.
Buying and storing fireworks
Buy from licensed shops. Buy good brands.
Store fireworks away from heat and other sources of fire.
Store fireworks away from the reach of small children who might accidentally put them in their mouth. There have been cases where crawling babies have managed to bite crackers.
The most common reason is wrong handling of fireworks because sometimes kids think that fire crackers are toys. Even harmless looking fireworks can cause major injury and even death.
Most importantly, most injuries can be avoided with a little bit of caution by following these Diwali safety tips