This Diwali, be wary of that anar and chakri

October 24th, 2011 - 5:33 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Oct 24 (IANS) It’s that time of the year when the sky dazzles with fireworks and houses are lit up. But with so many potential fire hazards on Diwali day, here’s a rundown on how to celebrate a safe festival of lights this year.

Nearly 80 percent of burn cases received by hospitals on Diwali day are due to fire crackers like the conical anar, chakri and rocket, say experts.

“The extent of burns is minor, but we observe that they can be prevented if people are a little cautious while bursting crackers,” R.P. Narayan, professor and consultant, department of burns, plastic, and maxillofacial surgery at Safdarjung Hospital, told IANS.

The 60-bedded unit at the hospital sees a hike in the number of burn cases received in the week before Diwali.

“Anar and chakri are dangerous. Sometimes people, especially children, try to ignite the anar while holding it in the hand,” Narayan said, adding that the first word of caution is to “never leave the children unattended during Diwali”.

Flame-producing crackers are relatively more dangerous than other crackers, he says.

While doctors have been emphasising on making sure that children burst crackers only under an adult’s supervision, the health ministry’s National Programme for Prevention of Burns (NPPB) has also come up with posters on preventive measures to avoid burns during Diwali.

Under the programme, the National Academy of Burns-India (NABI) distributes posters that spread awareness through colourful drawings, animation, and slogans.

Experts say taking some basic steps can thwart accidents. They suggest going for community celebrations, buying crackers from only licensed shops and keeping two buckets of water ready.

But with a major chunk of population vouching for celebrating the festival of lights with firecrackers, doctors say the measures are not enough. An extensive approach to first aid is also needed to keep people prepared.

“Since you cannot tell people to choose a defined and restricted way of celebrating the festival, it is better to be prepared,” Narayan says.

The most common type of injuries include skin burns and eye injuries. Sometimes a finger might have to be amputated when a cracker goes off in the hand.

According to experts, the reasons behind the increasing accidents on Diwali are space constrains and increased spending power and hence increasing sale of firecrackers.

While the importance of prevention measures is placed high, doctors also have a list of post-burn measures.

“The first thing to be done after any burn injury is to pour water over the burnt portion. If you receive burns on face or eyes, then splash plenty of cold water. The person should immediately be taken to the nearest hospital,” Rohit Batra, dermatologist with Gangaram hospital, told IANS.

The awareness methodology professed by experts is: prevention, management and rehabilitation measures.

“There are a lot of myths related to removing burn scars. The fact is that no cream, ointment, or medicine can remove scars, they can only be reduced over a period of time,” Narayan said.

Some of the burn wards at government hospitals in the capital are Safdarjung Hospital, Ram Manohar Lohia hospital, Sucheta Kriplani hospital, Lok Nayak hospital, GTB hospital, Deen Dayal Upadhyay (DDU) hospital and Bara Hindu Rao hospital in Old Delhi.

(Madhulika Sonkar can be contacted at madhulika.s@ians.in)

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