CHENNAI: As part of an awareness camp organised by Radhatri Nethralaya, around 60 children from 27 schools participated in a workshop about how to deal with firecracker injuries to the eye. Two boys from DAV School, Gopalapuram, enacted a scene where one boy while lighting a Diwali sparkler injures his eye and is writhing in pain. The other, wearing safety goggles, washes his hands and examines the eye, checks for foreign bodies and washes the eye with saline solution, after which he takes him to the eye doctor.
Due to lack of safety precautions a lot of people suffer from blindness and burns after every Diwali.
“The numbers just keep rising, and 20 per cent of injuries are usually to the eye. Most often, it is unsuspecting bystanders who get injured because people who light the crackers have time to run away,” said Dr Vasumathy Vedhantham, the medical director of Radhatri Nethralaya, who conducted the workshop.
“In the West, crackers are burst in large grounds with barricades and plenty of safety precautions. In Europe, I was even surprised to see fire engines. In India, the situation is completely different with firecrackers being burst in small bylanes, terraces and apartment complexes,” she said. While it is difficult to impose designated areas in India, she said that at least other precautions could be taken.
One can use safety goggles that are available in optical shops and eye hospitals, along with eye shield and plaster, antibiotic eye drops and saline solution, which can also be replaced by water. The entire kit could be put together for less than`60 she said, which could help prevent injuries.
“The sparklers seem the most harmless but they often cause the most harm. Hold your hand straight while lighting them. And always use an agarbathi to light the crackers rather than sparklers. Make sure there is adult supervision,” she told the students.
The workshop is in its fifth year and was free and open to all schools from where two student representatives and one teacher could participate. “We ask the students to enact and pass on the information to the others in the school. We cannot expect students to stop celebrating, so the best way to spread the message of safety is through the youngsters themselves,” said Vasumathy.