The festival of lights has begun. But even before the main Diwali festivities start on Saturday evening, a Delhi-based plastic surgeon, who runs a 24-hour helpline, says that cases of burns and injuries due to crackers have already started.
"Since last night (Friday) I have already received around 10 calls. As the Saturday night approaches and morning dawns, I am expecting about 150-200 calls," Anup Dhir told IANS.
"In all the frenzied excitement of burning fire crackers, people ignore simple precautionary measures and end up hurting themselves during Diwali," he added.
A regular feature during the festival, Dhir said that it's been a decade since he started this initiative of helping people through this helpline - 09312377554.
"Earlier, on every Diwali, inevitably, I end up spending the evening in the hospital attending to two-three burn cases. Then I decided that something must be done to spread awareness among people on immediate first aid and started this helpline in 1999," Dhir said.
"Ever since I have been receiving more than 200 calls on the helpline, from all across the country. While there are calls from Delhi, but because help is more accessible here, the helpline calls are mostly from far flung places," he added.
According to Dhir, the damage of a burn injury can be reduced if first aid is provided immediately.
"However a lot of people do the mistake of going for home remedies like applying ghee on the burn, which not just increases the risk of infection but also makes the detection of the extent of the burn difficult later.
"Therefore the aim of my helpline is to help people get proper first aid before rushing to a hospital," he said.
Dhir acknowledged that the awareness level of people has improved and the number of such cases has come down. Children in particular have become a lot smarter.
"Because of all the awareness programmes in schools, kids know a lot about safety guidelines and first aid. Most of the cases that come to me are of adults," Dhir said.