Diwali is almost upon us. Along with sweets, new clothes among other good things, fireworks are an important part of the celebrations. Ground chakras, rockets, flower pots, sparklers are all-time favourites that both adults and young ones enjoy. While fireworks are definitely fun, safety is a matter of concern. So it’s important to stay safe while enjoying the festivities.
A firework is a type of explosive pyrotechnic device that is used during celebrations and events. Research has shown that air quality levels during Diwali drop drastically with polluting gases staying in the air for days on end. The poisonous chemical fumes which arise from the bursting of fireworks are toxic and have been known to cause lung disorders in many people. Furthermore, oxide compounds form acids on reacting with the moisture in the body causing harm.
It is advisable that people keep at least five feet away from a lit firework, especially those with any kind of multiple chemicals sensitivity.
While a few fireworks are mostly just light shows, most of them are a combination of sound and light. It is this that makes it more thrilling. Sound or loudness is measured in decibels, so a normal conversation clocks in at about 60dB, a jackhammer at about 100dB, and the sound a jet-plane at take-off is well over a 120dB. Though the threshold for pain is at 130dB, continuous exposure to sounds over 80dB (the sound of a fire-alarm) is enough to damage hearing.
India has strict legislation that prevents fireworks from exceeding 125dB. At about a distance of three meters, fireworks are often at loudness levels between 125-155 dB; reverberation due to buildings also plays a role in loudness. In the case of 100 or 1000 walas which are multiple crackers strung together, continuous blasts often extend the duration of loudness causing great harm to our ears.
Use a pair of earplugs while bursting crackers, as it muffles loud noises helping preserve your hearing in the long run.
Heat & Light:
Fireworks are made of different combinations of chemicals for different colours and effects. Naturally, intense heat is generated as a by-product of vigorous combustion. Firecrackers can get as hot as 1000 degrees centigrade, enough heat to melt aluminium. Sparklers take the lead here in burning at temperatures as high as 1600 degrees centigrade. This is enough to cause severe burns and injuries.
It is highly recommended that people wear non-flammable clothing while handling crackers. A bucket of water as also sand should also be at hand, as burnt crackers will continue to smoulder and remain hot for a while. Dousing the used cracker in water is a safe solution.
There are other important safety tips to be followed as well while bursting crackers. Here are some of them:
- Do not burst fireworks in enclosed spaces or even inside your homes. In addition to the much higher quantity of fumes, you’ll inhale because of the tight space, you’ll also be exposed to more heat which can cause burns. Also if something goes wrong with the firework, the dangers are much higher because of the closed space than lighting it in open spaces.
- Always have a fire extinguisher on hand which is much essential for fire safety. While water and sand can be effective in putting out fires, they are nowhere nearly as effective as a fire extinguisher. The expellant i.e. the substances used to put out the fire are stored under high pressure which when released come out in full force, helping put out fires much more quickly.
- Along with fire extinguishers, fire blankets are extremely helpful in putting out flames. A fire blanket consists of material that retards the growth of the fire. The blankets are non-flammable and can withstand temperatures of up to 500 degrees centigrade. Also, they are far simpler to use than an extinguisher.
- Do not let young children handle fireworks on their own. As mentioned above, some fireworks like sparklers can get very hot to cause severe burns. Always ensure adult supervision.
- If a firework hasn’t gone even after lighting it, never ever bend over it to check. It might explode at that moment with devastating consequences. Instead, douse it in water and throw it away.
- Move to a safe distance once the firework has been lit. The pressure wave generated by fireworks has been known to cause damage around the eyes, in addition to harming your ear-drums.
- Buy fireworks manufactured without child labour. Doing so can help save the lives of these children, many of whom will be able to enjoy a healthy life.
- Keep a first-aid kit handy. Move the injured person away from the cracker. Try to cool the burn with lots of cold running water for ten minutes until the pain subsides. Seek immediate medical attention.
- Try to purchase green crackers. While they’re understandably more expensive, they also emit far less toxic fumes and use chemicals that are less damaging to the environment.
- If ever a firework ends up starting a fire, and you’re unable to put it out, immediately activate the fire alarm. Alert everyone around you. Assemble at a safe meeting point and call the firefighting service.
While good food and good eating are integral to any celebration, it is very important to stay healthy. Here a few tips to stay healthy and keep fit through the festivities.
- Sweets are a central part of Diwali. It is one of the main reasons we all look forward to celebrating Diwali year after year. The high quantities of fat and sugar in these sweets create a strong craving to consume more, so do enjoy in moderation.
- When eating sweets and other such rich foods, our digestion takes quite a hit. Staying hydrated is one way to keep the digestive process running smoothly. In addition to drinking lots of water which also helps reduce sugar cravings, drinking tea made of white tea leaves is extremely helpful, as it helps with the breaking down of fat while also slowing down its buildup.
- Indian traditional medicine has also devised a way of dealing with the rich foods eaten on Diwali. The ‘Lehiyam’ is a combination of many different herbs and spices sweetened with jaggery and honey. It is an extremely potent digestive aid, so remember a pea-sized amount is all one needs.
Here’s wishing you a very happy and safe Diwali!!