By Vipula Waghmare
Diwali, the festival of lights, brings fun and togetherness. For children, fireworks, new clothes and sweets make this festival the most eagerly awaited of the year.
Unfortunately, injuries from fireworks spoil the fun for many families – and though Diwali is a holiday for most of us, fire departments and hospitals around the country are on constant alert to tackle the various mishaps.
Each year brings a fresh crop of cases involving loss of eyesight and serious burns and injuries caused by fireworks. Most of these cases involve children.
- On the 5th day of Diwali 2008, a 5-month-old girl in New Delhi was struck in the forehead by an aerial shell that was launched sideways
- In Mumbai, an 8-year-old boy picked up a firecracker that had been thrown on the ground. It exploded in his hands, lodging particles in his eye
The horror stories abound…
Ignorance And Carelessness Cause Disaster
Freak accidents like these invariably occur when kids are allowed to play with fireworks unattended. The most common reason is wrong handling of fireworks.
Parents need to take some precautions to avoid such tragedies. For instance, it is extremely important to know the difference between a legal consumer firework and a dangerous explosive device.
The latter can cause serious injury or even death. Both parents and their children need to stay away from anything that is not clearly labeled and does not display the manufacturer’s name and instructions for proper use.
Fundamentally, children MUST understand that fireworks are not toys, that they burn at approximately the same temperature as a household match and that they can ignite clothes and cause burns and injuries if used improperly.
Parents must never allow young children to handle fireworks without close adult supervision. Even seemingly harmless sparklers and ‘flower pots’ can be dangerous for very young kids, especially to those under age five.
Most of these and similar non-explosive fireworks can create havoc if lighted in busy areas. Rockets can shoot off into non-intended directions to injure people and even enter homes to set things inside on fire.
Fireworks Safety Tips For Kids
We often do not realise the potential danger, and therefore ignore even the most rudimentary precautions. Caution and proper care can ensure a safe and fun-filled Diwali – it all boils down to a few simple dos and don’ts.
- Supervise children while they light fireworks
- Make them light fireworks outside the house
- Have them hold sparklers away from the body
- Keep ‘flower pots’ and ‘chakras’ on even, flat ground while lighting them
- Have them light up rockets only on open ground
- Ensure proper distance from the fireworks away at a distance while they are lighting them
- Make sure they are wearing closed footwear and close-fitting clothes of thick material (instead of loose or flowing garments) while lighting fireworks
- Keep a water bucket and burn ointment (or aloe vera gel) handy
- Check the area before igniting fireworks to ensure that no inflammable materials are near
- Ensure they light only one firework at a time
- Discard used fireworks in a bucket of water
- Let them bend over fireworks while lighting them, or approach them if in doubt about whether they are live or not
- Let them light fireworks while holding them in hand
- Let them keep extra fireworks in pockets
- Let them wear Nylon clothes – cotton is safest while lighting crackers
- Let them try to light used fireworks
- Let them light firecrackers with a matchstick, but rather a candle of agarbatti – this ensures sufficient distance between their hands and the cracker
- Let them use fireworks indoors
- Let them put fireworks into any container before lighting them up
- Let them mix anything with the contents of fireworks or make fireworks at home
- Let them ignite aerial fireworks where overhead obstruction (trees, wires, etc.) or even heavy wind exist
- Let them throw or point fireworks at other people
Finally, Diwali is a family festival – it should be a source of joy for everyone, including kids. But these small but important steps can ensure that the Festival of Lights does not bring darkness into your lives.
© Vipula Waghmare
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Download a Printable copy of our previous article “Diwali Decorations – Rangoli, Toran And Diyas”
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Diwali Festival of Lights
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