Number of firecracker victims rises to 714

Sheila Crisostomo - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The number of firecracker-related injuries jumped to 714, almost half of them caused by four illegal firecrackers, the Department of Health (DOH) reported yesterday.

The DOH said that piccolo, five star, pla-pla and boga are among the top 10 firecrackers which caused the injuries.

The four illegal firecrackers accounted for 43.4 percent of the 714 firecracker-related injuries reported by 50 sentinel hospitals nationwide from 6 a.m. of Dec. 21, 2014 to 6 a.m. of Jan. 3.

Piccolo had the most cases at 247, followed by five star with 26, pla-pla with 22 and boga with 15.

DOH records, meanwhile, showed that stray bullet injuries rose from 10 to 12.

Among the victims is a 44-year-old man from Caloocan City, whose left hand was hit by stray bullet, while a 26-year-old woman from Rodriguez, Rizal was hit in the back.

Fireworks ingestion also increased from three to four, with a 51-year-old man from Tuguegarao in Cagayan province. His grandchild had poured gunpowder on his mouth while he was sleeping.

The DOH said that 34 firecracker-related injuries had led to amputation while 125 were eye injuries.

These all brought the total number of revelry-related injuries to 730, which is 27 percent lower than the 1,006 cases documented during the same period in the previous year’s revelry.

Majority of the victims are aged six to 10, accounting for 181 cases. This was followed by age bracket of 11 to 15 years at 169 cases; 16 to 20 at 72 cases; 21 to 25 at 54 cases; and five years old and below at 49 cases.

The DOH added that 62 percent or 360 cases involved active users of firecrackers.

Total firecracker ban urged

A total firecracker ban is being recommended in Western Mindanao following the zero casualty record during the New Year revelry in Zamboanga City, which is implementing an ordinance that prohibits the sale and use of firecrackers.

Chief Superintendent Edgar Basbas, Police Regional Office 9 director, said there is a need for municipalities, cities and provinces to impose a firecracker ban similar to that in Zamboanga City where it proved effective in preventing casualties and injuries.

Basbas said the proposed measure was based on the number of firecracker-related injuries in the city, which as of press time remained at zero.

The regional office of the DOH reported at least 15 cases of firecracker-related injuries in other areas in Western Mindanao with four cases of stray bullet injuries, including one case in Zamboanga del Norte and three cases in Zamboanga del Sur.

The regional health office reported that Isabela City in Basilan had the most number of firecracker-related injuries with at least eight cases.

Dad wants firecracker sellers punished

A 35-year-old father from Koronadal City wants members of the South Cotabato provincial legislative council to pass an ordinance that would make the act of giving or selling of pyrotechnic devices and firecrackers to children punishable.

Framil Rodriguez, father of four children, believed that such ordinance would possibly instill fear in the older people who sell or give firecrackers to minors.           

“I know that most fathers would agree with this,” he said.

Rodriguez made the call after the Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO) of South Cotabato announced yesterday that most of the victims of firecracker-related injuries in the entire province from Nov. 20, 2014 to Jan. 1 are children.

The youngest victim, who was reportedly struck by a kwitis, was only four years old.

A total of 77 people, mostly children aged 10 and younger, were reported injured by firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices in the province’s lone city and 10 towns.

The STAR learned that 60 percent of the injured children were hit by piccolo, a firecracker popular among the young because of its availability and cheap price.

Rodriguez said seeing children injured by firecrackers is “very painful.”

“I find it difficult to look at these kids because two of my four children are of the same age,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez described children injured by firecrackers as “collateral victims” of the customary practice of merrymaking during the New Year celebrations.

“Why don’t we instead greet the new year with prayers and with the company of the whole family?” Rodriguez suggested.

Some fathers also expressed a similar sentiment, saying it is time for children to see a peaceful way of celebrating the new year.

They said Rodriguez’s call is timely and should be heard by those in authority. – With Ramil Bajo, Roel Pareño










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