December is Firecracker Injury Prevention Month. Republic Act No. 7183, the Firecrackers Law, regulates the manufacture, distribution, sale, and use of firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices because they contain chemicals that may cause respiratory problems and their mishandling can result in serious injuries, even to passive bystanders.
Despite the repeated warnings of government agencies and media on the risks involved in lighting firecrackers, many still spend hundreds of pesos for them. Some even fabricate their own home-made pyrotechnic devices. Data from the Department of Health (DOH) for the period December 21, 2012, to January 1, 2013, though lower by 17 percent compared to the 2011-2012 figures, reveals 405 fireworks-related injuries and eight injuries caused by stray bullets. More than half of the cases were in the National Capital Region. Injury cases reach their peak during the New Year revelry on December 31 and January 1.
The DOH, which is at the forefront of the intensified campaign to heighten public awareness of the danger of firecrackers, is supported by the Department of Interior and Local Government in urging the local chief executives to establish “firecracker and pyrotechnic zones” in their localities. The Department of Trade and Industry inspects fireworks factories to identify harmful firecrackers, the Bureau of Customs prevents the entry of illegal firecrackers into the country, and the Philippine National Police has been adopting measures to ensure that their police service pistols and those owned by private individuals will not be used for indiscriminate firing that could hurt innocent revelers.
The DOH calls on the public, especially the young, to heed its five reminders: Fireworks causes injuries and endanger health. Children should not use any fireworks. Keep away from exploding fireworks. Never pick used fireworks. Seek immediate medical treatment for all firework injuries. As early as November this year, the DOH regional offices have launched the “Aksyon: Paputok Injury Reduction” to again remind the public of the dangers caused by fireworks and firecrackers and encourage the use of alternative devices to create the noise to greet the New Year.
We congratulate the Department of Health headed by Secretary Enrique T. Ona, Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel A. Roxas II, Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory L. Domingo, Philippine National Police Chief Director General Alan LM Purisima, and Bureau of Customs headed by Department of Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima, and wish them all the best and success in their unrelenting effort to make the holiday celebration peaceful and injury-free in our Republic of the Philippines. CONGRATULATIONS AND MABUHAY!