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Phil. gov’t appeals for injury-free holidays with community fireworks display

MANILA, Philippines – Children and parents are continuously reminded to have a safe and prosperous New Year and to avoid injuries due to exploding fireworks like piccolo as Filipinos gear up for the Holiday celebrations in less than a month.
The Department of Health (DOH) teams up with the Department of the Interior & Local Government (DILG), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Education (DepEd), Philippine National Police (PNP), Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) and EcoWaste Coalition as it officially launched the 2016 anti-firecracker campaign which carries the theme, “IwasPaputok, Fireworks Display ang Patok! Makiisa Fireworks Display sa inyong lugar”. In the past, DOH conveyed its messages through both scare tactics and positive approaches.
This year’s campaign focuses on encouraging the public to use alternative ways in celebrating Christmas and welcoming New Year and avoid the use of firecrackers. An Executive Order that will ban fireworks use nationwide was put on hold for next year. This will allow government to discuss its impact on the fireworks industry and find practical ways to impose the ban. Davao city is injury-free after it totally banned fireworks in 2002. “For this year, instead of firecrackers, the public is encouraged to use safe merry-making instruments and alternative noise-makers such as ‘torotot’, car horns, or by playing loud music. Also, the local government units (LGUs) are urged to foster community firework display,” Health Secretary Paulyn Jean B. Rosell-Ubial said. Last year, the DOH reported a total of 932 cases injuries nationwide from December 21, 2015 to January 5, 2016.
This was 72 cases (8%) higher compared to 2014 (860 injuries). Of the 932 reported injuries, 920 (98.7%) were due to fireworks, 10 (1.1%) from stray bullet, while 2 (0.2%) were cases of firecracker ingestion. There was one death due to massive injuries from an exploding good-bye Philippines. Any type of fireworks, illegal or not, can cause injuries. Majority or 555 cases (59%) of the fireworks related injuries (FWRI) was caused by illegal fireworks and 277 (29%) were from legal fireworks. Most injuries were caused by piccolo (385 or 42%), followed by unknown firecrackers (109 or 12%) because the victims were bystanders, while 103 (11%) cases of FWRI were recorded due to kwitis, followed by luces (sparklers) with 55 cases (6%). Children should never use any fireworks as 40% were children less than 15 years old. Most fireworks-related injuries came from the National Capital Region with 523 (56%), followed by Western Visayas 82 cases (9%), and Ilocos Region 68(7%).
In case of an injury due to firecrackers, DOH reminded that the wounds must be immediately washed with clean running water until all visible dirt and gunpowder residue is removed. The patient must immediately be rushed to the nearest health facility for proper medical attention to prevent permanent injuries and disability and deaths due to Tetanus.
The DOH assures that all DOH Hospitals are prepared to attend to injuries related to fireworks. “Serious injuries and amputation caused by firecracker explosions have life-changing consequences. It is an extreme gamble on one’s future.Every time a firecracker is ignited, a person’s life is at risk, hence, let us do all our part. Iwas Paputok, Fireworks Display ang Patok! Makiisasa Fireworks Display sa inyong lugar,” Secretary Ubial concluded.

Criselda Cabangon David, a happy mother of two kids, is a full-time Sociologist at the City Government of Lucena, Quezon Province. She is currently the Managing Editor of Ang Diaryo Natin Sunday News, a weekly local community newspaper in the Philippines and an active member of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.