Lamps, snacks and crackers in the company of family. A perfect way of celebrating Deepavali!

A festival where moderation invariably flies out of the window, especially in the presence of all that food, and the fun.

During this festival that is celebrated across the length and breadth of our country, people do tend to get reckless, and a little careless too. They seem to forget that, the very same fire that lights lamps and crackers, can also cause burns and fire accidents.

Let me rephrase that - it is the things people do / don’t do that causes the same fire that lights the lamps and crackers to burn out of control, and often resulting in damage to life and property. Carelessness while handling firecrackers is one of the main reasons for the many burn injuries during this period.

Sample these Diwali-specific statistics:

  • 2014, Delhi: 220 fire related incidents (thankfully, all minor) reported in Delhi
  • 2014, Assam: 40 cases of fire in a single day
  • 2015, Gujarat: 3,800 calls made to the ambulance service in just two days

The simple fact is that, when you play with fire, you are putting yourself, and others, at risk.

Who are these others?

Everyone around or with you – in your house, and in the neighbourhood. Special attention is to be paid to the aged, babies and toddlers, people with challenges (physical and mental), those who are unwell, and pets. The reason for this is that they are more vulnerable than the rest during Diwali as they may not be able to respond as quickly as the ‘average’ person.

Given this, it is necessary that everyone is kept in mind while celebrating the festival of lamps.

Do remember, a little responsible behaviour can go a long way.

Following the Do’s and Don’ts mentioned here would help you prevent, or minimize at least, injuries and losses due to fire accidents during this festival.

The Do’s

Fireworks / crackers

  • While not in use, store crackers in non-inflammable, closed boxes
  • Keep them away from sources of fire (gas cylinders, unobserved lamps, etc.), and from places where fire is frequently used (kitchen, welding shops, etc.)
  • Light crackers in opens spaces only. And not in rooms or enclosed spaces.
  • Impress on children the need to take adequate precautions while playing with firecrackers.

Clothes

  • Wear natural materials (e.g. cotton) in tight weaves and without fluff as they are known to offer slightly better protection, often giving a person sufficient time to put out a flame
  • While lighting crackers, avoid wearing clothes that are synthetic and / or have loose weaves or are worn loosely. These tend to catch fire very fast, often within 1 – 3 seconds, mostly due to the presence of more oxygen around the fabric which in turn aids the burning process.
  • If your clothes happen to catch fire, drop down on the ground and roll. However, ensure that you do so in a place that is away from crackers.
  • Safety measures
    • Ensure that a responsible adult is always with children when they are bursting crackers.
    • Keep buckets of water nearby for use in case of non-electric fires
    • Have a portable dry powder fire extinguisher which can help extinguish 4 different categories of fire including an electric fire.

The Don’ts

Fireworks / crackers

  • Don’t put firecrackers in your pocket. They can be very dangerous if lit accidently.
  • While lighting crackers, don’t place them in / cover with tin containers or glass bottles for extra sound effects.
  • Don’t light exploding crackers while they are still in your hand

Safety measures

  • Do not partake of alcohol before or during the fireworks display, or while lighting crackers. Responses to accidents may be slow due to the effect of alcohol.

Dealing with burns / injuries

  • Have a wet towel nearby in case a part of the skin gets burnt due to a cracker
  • In case you / a family member suffer from any burns, splash tap water (not ice water) on the affected area repeatedly till the burning sensation reduces.
  • If any fingers or toes are burned, as a first-aid, try and separate them using dry, sterile, non-adhesive dressings.
  • Make sure that the burn victim is breathing. If the victim’s airway is blocked, open the airway using the head-tilt, chin-lift maneuver - place one hand behind the victim’s head and one hand under the chin and tilt his head backward toward the sky. If need be, start CPR.
  • Rush the victim to a suitable hospital immediately.
  • In case of eye injuries, consult an ophthalmologist immediately
  • In case someone gets burnt, do not attempt to remove the burnt clothing unless it comes off easily. Do however ensure that the victim is no longer in in contact with smouldering / burning materials.

*Source: NDTV.com

In addition to the above, remember: In case of fire, call 101.

Keep in mind that only two hospitals in Bangalore have severe burns wards - Victoria Hospital, and St. Johns Hospital. Given that severe burns require specialized treatment. rush the victims to the right hospitals.

A mantra to keep in mind at all points of time: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

And prevention starts with… YOU!