With all the awareness campaigns seemingly making an impact, Diwali is gradually becoming more of a festival of lights than that of crackers. Hospitals like Sassoon and Surya that cater to patients with burns claim to be witnessing a decrease with each passing year in the number of patients brought to them with severe injuries caused by firecrackers.
Dr Parag Sahasrabuddhe, head of the Department of Plastic Surgery at B J Medical College and Sassoon General Hospital, who is conducting an audit of patients with burns, says there has been a general decrease in the number of patients reporting with severe burns. Since patients with mild burns usually go to private clinics, Sassoon does not get many cases. Sahasrabuddhe says they receive approximately 1,000 cases of burns throughout the year at Sassoon hospital annually.
ďWe are now studying the epidemiology, duration from the time the patient suffers burns to getting admitted for treatment, and the nature and type of injuries,Ē says Sahasrabuddhe, who had distributed pamphlets at the fire cracker stalls in the past as part of the measures to create awareness about a safe Diwali. He says the last two years have seen only 10-12 patients being admitted annually with burns caused by crackers.
Dr J S Shinde, managing trustee at Surya hospital, too claims that the number of burns cases related to firecrackers has come down. ďIt is only on a few days like Laxmi Pujan and Padwa that we see some burns patients in our out-patient department, but the number is declining. In the last two years, most of the patients with burns caused by crackers have been treated on OPD basis and very few were admitted,Ē he says. Special precautions should be taken at the time of Diwali when firecrackers are used, he adds.
Dr Dasmit Singh, paediatric surgeon at Jehangir hospital, says awareness campaigns have indeed made some impact, though many people still continue to burst firecrackers. Several schools have made students pledge that they will not burst crackers, and celebrate an eco-friendly Diwali.
According to Anupama Gujarathi, a teacher at Muktangan English School, children have been told of the importance of a less polluted environment. Every festival, she says, students are told to take measures, such as not wasting water during Holi or avoid bursting noisy firecrackers during Diwali.
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