The festival of Holi brings excitement; it brings laughter, gunjiyas, gulal, pichkaris, and thandai. It brings out the kid in adults. It brings out the kid in kids too. The traditional game of colours hides inherent dangers for children, but with a little preparation by parents, there is no need to worry.
Gulal (or Abir / Abhir) is the colourful powder used in the Holi celebrations, but they are being increasingly substituted with brighter and toxic alternatives. Some dyes and chemicals can cause skin irritation and eye injury, or even worse. Unfortunately, chemical colours can be bought for much less than herbal gulal and therein lies the dangers.
Here are some tips to keep children safe over the Holi festival:
- Goggles. As stated, toxic chemicals can do irreversible damage to the eyes. Even gentle substances can cause discomfort or infection. You can pick up a pair of fashionable Holi googles for about $5, which is a fair price for peace of mind.
- Skin Protection. Moisturiser can play a crucial part as well as a petroleum-based jelly to maintain a barrier. Coconut oil on the scalp is a helpful suggestion too. This brings us to our next points.
- Clothes. Most children will not want to wear a poncho or waterproofs. There is usually a compromise between long sleeves and long pants. The less skin that meets the chemicals, the better.
- Use organic. Use non-toxic, organic, herbal, or natural colours as they are better as they don’t contain any harsh or dangerous chemicals. Additionally, they won’t damage your child’s hair and or clothes.
- Balloons. Children love playing with water balloons. That’s a fact. However, water balloons can cause injuries to the eyes and skin if thrown with force. The simple pichkaris (water-gun) is a safer option worth discussing instead, especially as they can be refilled and reused.
- Behaviour. Everyone wants to play safely and enjoy themselves. Kids can get carried away (like adults). Ensure your child knows the boundaries – do not throw anything at, squirt, or harass anyone not willing to partake in the festivities.
- Ingestion. The colours should not be ingested regardless of their perceived safety. Ensure your child is aware that they are not to ingest the colours orally. Make sure they know to spit out any colours mistakenly taken in the mouth and not to swallow them.
- Supervise. The best way to ensure your child is safe and enjoys Holi is to watch them. Of course, you too can join in. By being part of the fun yourself, you get to celebrate with the children and supervise them, safe in the knowledge you’re at hand should they need you.
- Accidents happen. Should anything that requires medical attention occur, seek help immediately. If necessary, get to Accident and Emergency as soon as practicable. Remember, it is always better to be safe than sorry; encourage and practice a safe Holi with children. They will learn by your example.