Diwali – the festival of brightly lit homes, vibrant rangolis, assortment of sweets… and fireworks. Unfortunately, at Agashe Hospital, we often come across kids whose Diwali vacations get marred by a firecracker injury. Some eye injuries even have the potential to blind your child. Here are few quick tips on how to protect your child’s eyes this Diwali:
Protect Your Kids’ Eyes This Diwali
- Keep Safe Distance: Ensure that your child maintains a distance of an arm’s length while lighting crackers. That is why using a long agarbatti (incense stick) to light crackers makes more sense than using candles. (No, lighting the cracker in your hand and throwing it away is not even an option!) Even if your kid is simply watching, it should be from a minimum distance of five metres. In one study on firecracker related eye injuries, more than half the patients were just bystanders!
- Don’t Forget the Safety Glasses: Encourage your child to wear safety eye glasses so that smoke or flying debris from the crackers do not get into your child’s eyes. Even if his/ her friends don’t, encourage your kid to start a new trend.
- Contact Lenses? Not Today: In case of older kids who wear contact lenses, ask them to replace contact lenses with regular glasses when they go to burst crackers. They may not like looking a ‘little less cool’ (especially since you won’t let them wear their new synthetic clothes either), but it will reduce the chances of allergies, infections and irritation if exposed to direct heat for long.
- No Science Experiments Please: Curiosity is great, but not when your kid decides to investigate why that cracker fizzled out. It may have had an untimely death, but let that unburst firecracker go, by putting it to rest by pouring water over it. If your kid has a ‘do-it-yourself’ bent of mind, warn them about making their own / mixing / experimenting with firecracker powders on their own.
- First Aid for Firecracker Injury: In case there is a firecracker related eye injury, do not rub the eye. Ask your child to keep the eye as wide open as possible. Clean your hands thoroughly.
If there are eye injuries from chemicals entering the eye, flush your child’s eyes with tepid water under a tap, gentle shower or using a clean container of water. This should be continued for 15 to 30 minutes to cleanse any remaining chemicals. Do not spray high pressure water stream (as from a jet spray) into the eye.
If debris has penetrated the eye, then do not wash with water. Simply cover the eye with a plastic cup that doesn’t press on the eye. Visit your pediatric eye doctor at the earliest.
For severe burns, continue flushing till you reach a hospital or your pediatric eye doctor. Avoid bandaging the eye until an eye specialist has had a look. While taking your child to the eye hospital, his or her eyes may be extra sensitive to the light. Do carry a pair of sunglasses along.
Having said that, we cannot resist ourselves from sending out a plea on behalf of the environment. Taking care of the above aspects may ensure that your child’s eyes are safe from fire crackers. But there is really no way that you can save the environment from getting hurt when you use firecrackers! Wishing you all a safe, healthy and happy Diwali.
Dr. Prachi Agashe is a Paediatric Ophthalmologist at Agashe Paediatric SuperSpeciality Care, a division of Agashe Hospital in Kurla, Mumbai. Dr. Agashe can be reached at 022 42435000 or by writing in at email@example.com or simply clicking here.