Even before the Christmas and New Year festivities began, there were already 10 victims of firecracker-related injuries recorded in the country, the Department of Health (DOH) disclosed on Monday.
According to Health Secretary Janette Loreto Garin, the injuries recorded as of December 20 this year were caused by piccolos and whistle bombs, which are both banned from being sold in the Philippines.
Eight of the 10 victims were children five to 12 years old.
“Of the 10 victims, eight were caused by piccolos and the other two were caused by whistle bombs. These two are illegal in the country, and should be reported to the PNP [Philippine National Police] and the local government because there is a penalty for selling those firecrackers,” Garin said.
“Despite advertisements and campaigns intended to protect children from fireworks injuries, the profile of cases remains the same. That’s why we are calling the cooperation of LGUs [local government units]and the PNP, if not to ban the selling or use of firecrackers in the community, at least foster community fireworks display to control the use of fireworks and firecrackers,” she added.
The cases reported came from the provinces of Laguna, Rizal, Ilocos Norte, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Iloilo and Davao del Norte.
Metro Manila has had zero cases during that period.
The Health department advised the public to clean minor injuries with soap and water, and to immediately take the victims to the hospital for medical attention.
Anti-tetanus shots should also be administered to victims if needed, it said.
Meanwhile, the DOH will officially begin monitoring firecracker-related incidents in sentinel hospitals from December 21 to January 5.
Its spokesman Lyndon Lee Suy clarified that the 10 victims earlier reported would not be included in the agency’s official total, and that it would be back to zero.
During the same period last year, the DOH Epidemiology Bureau recorded a total of 860 injuries of which 840 were caused by fireworks, 13 by stray bullets and seven by firecracker ingestion.
“Imagine the rest of a child’s life without hands, arms, legs or injured body parts after losing them to fireworks or firecrackers. Not only will their self-esteem be diminished, but also their productivity at school [will suffer],” Garin said.