Mumbai: Children bear the brunt of cracker injuries during Diwali

Minors with superficial burn injuries and senior citizens complaining of breathlessness kept hospitals busy this Diwali; no major casualties were reported

Despite a fall in the sale of firecrackers this Diwali, the number of burn injuries did not follow the same trend. Children and senior citizens were the common patients, who came to hospitals complaining of burn injuries or breathlessness. While four children were rushed to Sion Hospital after sustaining burn injuries from crackers, 7-8 people were treated at KEM Hospital’s out patient ward for minor burns.

Also Read: 12-year-old burns his hand while lighting cracker

(Left) Kuldeep sustained severe burn injuries on his face, chest and hands, (right) six-year-old Om Prakash fell victim to a flowerpot
(Left) Kuldeep sustained severe burn injuries on his face, chest and hands, (right) six-year-old Om Prakash fell victim to a flowerpot

Not only fire, but smoke emitted by firecrackers in the past four days also affected people. Asthma patients and those suffering from other respiratory diseases were admitted in civic hospitals due to breathlessness.

Children most hurt
A patient’s relative told mid-day that most of the incidents took place while the children were trying to burst flowerpots. While some of them took place due to the negligence of the children, others were a result of firecrackers bursting unexpectedly.

Manju Bhat, grandmother of five-year-old Kuldeep Bhat from Antop Hill, said the child was bursting crackers outside the home when suddenly a flowerpot exploded near him. “An elder always keeps an eye on the children but since these were the smaller and supposedly safer firecrackers, we didn’t pay much attention. As soon as he went to light up the flowerpot, it burst and he got severely burnt,” said Manju. Kuldeep was rushed to the hospital on Wednesday night with severe burn injuries on his face, chest and hands.

Six-year-old Om Prakash also fell victim to a flowerpot. His father, Bunty, who brought him to Sion Hospital on Friday, said Om got burnt while leaning over one of the flowerpots, which was lit by another child. “He is a very active and naughty kid. He was leaning over the firecracker when a friend of his playfully lit it up and the flames directly came on his face,” said Bunty. Om sustained burn injuries on the right side of his face. Two more children, Sakib Shaikh (12) and Kalanjali Vishwas (3) also sustained minor burn injuries due to firecrackers. While Shaikh was discharged on Friday after being treated for a day, Vishwas, who suffered 20% burns due to a stray firecracker, is under treatment in the burns ward of the hospital.

Read Story: Here's how to play it safe this Diwali

Doctors of civic hospitals said they have had their hands full for the past three days with patients with minor burn injuries. While most of them didn’t need admission, some were transferred to the tertiary care facilities for further diagnosis.

Dr Vinita Puri, head, plastic surgery department of KEM Hospital, said they treated around 7-8 patients in OPD but none were serious enough to need admission. “The extent of the injuries suffered by patients was less this year since only one pediatric patient who suffered 5% burn injuries on his face needed admission while the others were treated in OPD since they had minor burns,” said Puri.

Breathing uneasy
Apart from firecracker injuries, several senior citizens were rushed to the hospital after complaining of breathlessness and respiratory issues. Talking to mid-day, Dr Nilkanth Awad, HOD and professor of pulmonary medicine, said the number of patients complaining about the respiratory issues has increased this year.

“In this season, the overall pollution level has increased which irritates the respiratory tract and triggers existing respiratory or lung ailments making patients suffer from breathlessness. Since the festive season is followed by winter, such problems become starker, it is high time that people stop bursting crackers and consider the grave outcomes,” said Awad.

Around 80 fire related calls from suburbs
Diwali celebrations kept the fire department busy as calls kept coming in from different parts of the city. Fire officials from the control room confirmed that there were 70-80 calls reported in the past two days related to minor fire breakouts caused due to firecrackers in Mumbai suburban area, one of which being in Wilson College Gymkhana which partially destroyed the vintage structure. At the same time, the Mumbai Metropolitan reported more than 100 calls about fires due to firecrackers.

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