Enjoy Holi Safely – SHEilds Health and Safety Blog

10 Measures to Minimise Risk

Marking the start of Spring, Holi – the Hindu festival of colours – is an event that is celebrated in India by the throwing of coloured water and powders at each other. It is also increasingly acknowledged and celebrated in similar forms by various other communities and cultures around the world.

There is more than one legend behind the Holi celebration, largely depending on the region of India.

One story holds that it attempts to recreate the immortal love story of Krishna; an Avatar of the god Vishnu and a deity of preservation. Possessing dark blue skin, Krishna is said to have mischievously coloured the face of his love interest Radha and other gopi cow-herders to make them more like him.

Notably the word Holi translates from Hindi as ‘burning’ which in turn reflects another legend; Prahlad’s defiance of his father – the demon king Hiranyakashyap – and his devotion to Vishnu which saves him from a fire that claims his murderous aunt Holika’s life. In reference to this, the night before the festival a bonfire is lit in celebration of Prahlad’s triumph over evil.

There are a multitude of other origin stories, but the running theme is generally the triumph of good over evil, along with a broader purpose behind the throwing of colours signifying the coming of Spring and the colours Spring itself brings to nature.

Whilst Holi is a wonderful day for all to enjoy regardless of ethnicity, inevitably there are a few Health and Safety concerns that arise from thrown powders and liquids, along with open fires. This is not to suggest a killjoy attitude forbidding activities is necessary, but a little care and consideration during festivities can go a long way.

We want you to enjoy Holi safely so SHEilds have put together the following list of 10 measures to minimise risk and potential mishaps:

  1. Only play with other individuals who want to play and are prepared – Throwing water or coloured powders at those who are not involved may cause shock and concern.
  2. Wear suitable clothing – Most Holi paints are machine washable but not all. Wear clothes that you don’t mind disposing of at the end of the event.
  3. Keep pets and wildlife safe – Do not throw colours at animals and dispose of containers/bags used for carrying colours responsibly to avoid litter as this is unsightly but can also pose serious dangers to wildlife.
  4. Make sure the area in which you play is suitable – It should be well away from hazards such as moving traffic, cracked broken flooring or other trip/slip risks.
  5. Moisturise before and after you play to protect your skin – Pay particular attention to lips, ears and any other areas which are typically more sensitive.
  6. Personal Protective Equipment – You don’t have to rush to your local PPE store and equip everyone in high visibility vests and hard hats, but it is worth digging out those old sunglasses. If you wear contact lenses then it is strongly advised to remove them before playing.
  7. Keep yourself and others safe near the bonfires – Make sure there is enough room around and ABOVE your bonfire before lighting. If possible draw a boundary in chalk around the fire and instruct revellers to stay out of this area.
  8. Stay hydrated whilst celebrating – Your body will lose water (sweat) whilst playing or standing near fires and the dry powders pull moisture out of your body, so make sure your water intake accounts for this. Also restrict your alcohol intake to counter dehydration issues.
  9. Wash your hands thoroughly – Give your hands a good wash after playing with coloured powders to avoid accidentally transferring to sensitive skin parts and eyes.
  10. Clean up before you eat – If you’re planning to have a meal or even a snack during the event ensure your hands are washed thoroughly before doing so, paying special attention to the nails and areas around them before eating.
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Holi starts on the 1st of March and ends on the evening of the 2nd of March.

To anyone celebrating; have fun and stay safe.

Paul Nock

Director – SHEilds UK

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