Most of the times, injuries while bursting crackers occur because of no supervision, misuse of crackers, device failure and so on. Injuries may also result from being too close to fireworks when they explode. For example, when you lean over to look more closely if a firework has been lit or if a bottle rocket hits a nearby person. The types of fireworks that generally cause injuries are flower pots or fountains, sparklers, bombs, rockets and sky shots.
Precautions and safety measures
- Buy fireworks from licensed and reputed manufacturers only. Ask the shopkeeper for his license given by the city police.
- Organise a community display of fireworks rather than individuals handling crackers.
- As far as possible, use crackers in open grounds rather than narrow streets.
- Keep two buckets of water nearby in case of an emergency.
- Store fireworks safely in a closed box, in a dry and cool place.
- Keep it away from children, pets and sources of heat.
- While bursting crackers, make sure that there is enough space for you to get to and from your box of fireworks.
- Do not wear loose clothes as it can easily catch fire. Wear thick cotton clothes instead of synthetic material. If your clothing catches fire, do not run. Instead roll on the ground to put out the flames.
- Do not burst more than one piece of cracker at a time.
- If a cracker doesn’t go off, don’t go back to it – it could still be live, and could go off unexpectedly on your face.
- Do not reignite fireworks that don’t light in the first instance.
- Do not throw fireworks at another person.
- Do not carry crackers in your pocket. Never shoot them from metal or glass containers.
Rockets can fly into people’s faces and cause eye injures. When sparklers are held close to your body, it can ignite clothing. Bombs can injure your hands or face if they explode at close range. The body parts that are most often injured are hands, head, face and ears. Third degree burns, blindness and permanent scarring are other common fireworks-related injuries.
Protect the ill, elders, infants and pets
Though it is advised for people with respiratory illnesses to stay indoors and avoid bursting crackers, they can use a mask or handkerchief while bursting them. Some of the chemicals used in crackers are also harmful. It can cause irritation of the respiratory tract, vomiting and can also affect the nervous system.
Crackers burst indiscriminately cause disturbances in sleep. This can affect those who have high blood pressure or hypertension. Though the sound of bursting firecrackers does not directly affect them, it can cause discomfort. It can also be upsetting to people who require undisturbed rest like babies and elderly people. Infants should be kept inside closed rooms. Do not take them anywhere near fire or smoke.
Noise also frightens pets, causing them to experience anxiety. They are more affected than humans. They could get aggressive and bark constantly and are often seen hiding under cots. They should also be kept indoors.Crackers like rockets, flower pots and hydrogen bombs are better used in open spaces like playgrounds instead of narrow streets or apartment complexes. Crackers that emit a lot of smoke are considered the most harmful.
Supervise young children
Younger children often lack the physical coordination to handle fireworks safely. So, adult supervision is necessary. Children often get excited or curious when they are around fireworks. This could lead to mishaps. Adults should keep a watch. Explain to your child that crackers, matches, candles and lamps are not items to play with.
What to do in case of an injury
In case of an injury, do not panic. If a person suffers a burn injury, apply cold water immediately and then seek medical attention. In case of eye burns, wash the eye with tap water for 10 minutes and take the victim to a hospital.
In case of major burns, after extinguishing the fire, remove all smoldering clothes. Wrap the victim in a clean bedsheet. Don’t apply any antiseptic or ointment on burnt area. You can administer an oral painkiller like Crocin for temporary relief. ⊕
- Dr Nitin Singh, Paediatrician, Lakeside Medical Centre and Hospital
- Dr Savio Pereira, Associate Medical Superintendent, St. John’s Medical College and Hospital
- B K Hamppagol, Deputy Director (Technical), Karnataka State Fire and Emergency Services
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Society for the Confluence of Festivals in India