Fireworks-related injuries in WV total 34; most victims from 10-below age group

By Rjay Zuriaga Castor and Mariela Angella Oladive

The Department of Health reported on Thursday that fireworks-related injuries (FWRI) in Western Visayas now stand at 34, with the victims mostly belonging to the age group of 1-10 years old.

The latest “Iwas Paputok” campaign surveillance report from the DOH showed that the region recorded six new additional (FWRI) cases from December 27 to 28.

The latest cases involve two blast and burn wounds and four eye injuries, which were caused by homemade cannons locally known as “Boga” and “kwitis.”

According to the DOH, the reported cases are 11 percent lower compared to the 38 cases reported during the corresponding period last year.

Four of the total cases were recorded at sentinel hospitals, while the remaining 30 were reported from non-sentinel hospitals.

Sentinel hospitals in the region include the Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital, Western Visayas Medical Center, Western Visayas Sanitarium, and Iloilo Mission Hospital.

The DOH has previously urged parents or guardians to look over their children and lead by example by using noise-making alternatives.

The Bureau of Fire Protection Region 6 (BFP 6) has also strongly advised the public to refrain from using firecrackers to celebrate the arrival of the new year.

BFP-6 Regional Director Jerry Candido said it is better to enjoy the festivities by watching organized fireworks displays organized by the local government.

The BFP-6 is already under “Code Red Alert,” which means that the bureau is in full force, ready to respond to emergency cases until the new year.

In Iloilo City, the government has issued an executive order that regulates the sale, distribution, manufacture, and use of firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices in the city.

Executive Order No. 163 provides that the display and selling of fireworks are permitted from December 1 to 31, 2023, only.

The approved firecrackers for sale include baby rockets, bawang, small triangulo, pulling strings, paper caps, El Diablo, watusi, Judah’s belt, and skyrockets (kwitis), while pyrotechnic devices include butterfly, fountain, Jumbo regular and special, luces, Mabuhay, Roman candle, Sparklers, Trompillo, whistle devices, and various decorative lights.

To further manage the distribution of firecrackers, the city government has authorized the selling of these items exclusively in three designated areas: Circumferential Road 1, corner Jocson Street; Circumferential Road 1-corner Iloilo East Coast-Capiz, along Ondoy’s Sugbahan; and Muelle Loney Street, along Riverside in front of Muelle Loney statue.

Concurrently, the Iloilo City Police Office has issued a cautionary advisory, advising the public to refrain from using prohibited firecrackers and pyrotechnics while celebrating the New Year.

Meanwhile, DOH WV CHD urged the public to opt for community fireworks displays organized by professionals.

“The DOH is advocating for community fireworks, instead of individual firecrackers. However, it should be organized by professionals, and the location where they are set off should be at a safe distance from viewers. Permits should be secured, and the PNP-BFP should be ready,” said Dr. Fritzi Ann Suzette Jeroso-Dequito, DOH-6 Health Promotion Unit head during a virtual press conference on December 27.

Dr. Dequito further highlighted the benefits of community fireworks displays.

“Benefit of community fireworks is mas lawig ang makita nga display and aside from that maappreciate gid ni sang mga pumuluyo… Instead nga magbakal sila palupok, ibakal na lang nila sang panghanda for the celebration. Mas less ang gasto, safe pa kay layo sa aksidente,” she stated.

The DOH emphasizes the importance of public safety and strongly encourages everyone to celebrate the holidays responsibly.

“We are also wary about the potential health risks associated with the smoke produced by fireworks,” Dr. Dequito added, citing potential health risks for people with asthma, those with allergic rhinitis in particular.

The DOH urged those with respiratory conditions to take necessary precautions or avoid areas with excessive smoke.

Community fireworks displays not only offer a safer environment but also reduce the risk of accidents, injuries, and potential fire hazards.

The DOH’s call aligns with its advocacy, promoting healthy and safe holiday celebration, encouraging communities to come together to celebrate without compromising the well-being of individuals.

As the holiday season continues, the DOH urges everyone to prioritize safety and make responsible choices to ensure a joyous and injury-free celebration.