Firecrackers and fireworks displays are traditional ways of welcoming the New Year, as their noise and lights are believed to chase away evil spirits or bad luck. However, the practice of lighting up firecrackers and fireworks can be dangerous and can cause health hazards.
Last year, the Department of Health (DOH) reported a total of 932 cases of injuries nationwide from December 21, 2015 to January 5, 2016. Of the 932 reported injuries, 920 (98.7%) were due to fireworks, 10 (1.1%) from stray bullets, while 2 (0.2%) were cases of firecracker ingestion. There was one death due to massive injuries from an illegal firecracker called “Goodbye Philippines”. Fourty percent (40%) of those injured were children less than 15 years old.
This year, the DOH is again campaigning towards less firecracker-related injuries, by suggesting the use of alternative noisemakers and by urging Local Government Units to hold their own public pyrotechnics exhibitions. “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 fireworks display,” says Health Secretary Paulyn Jean B. Rosell-Ubial.
“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. We are asking our LGUs to support the Iwas Paputok, Fireworks Display ang Patok! Makiisasa Fireworks Display in their municipalities,” Secretary Ubial added.
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 Secretary assured the public that all DOH Hospitals are prepared to attend to injuries related to fireworks.
Injuries are not the only concerns that are connected with the New Year celebrations. Studies have shown that the levels of Suspended particulate Matters (SPM), CO, NOx, hydrocarbons, SO2, increase to an unprecedented levels in air during fireworks displays. Pregnant women, children and those having a chronic asthma are most vulnerable to these exposures.
The SPM levels can cause throat, nose, and eye-related problems. It can lead to headaches and reduced mental acuity. It has much more severe effects in people with heart, respiratory or nervous system disorders. It can aggravate problems for people suffering from cold allergies or coughs and can also cause congestion of throat and chest. Fireworks can also cause respiratory problems such as: chronic or allergic bronchitis, bronchial asthma, sinusitis, rhinitis, pneumonia and laryngitis.
Unwanted second noise has harmful effects as well. Standard noise level set by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for the ambient environment is 60 dB during daytime and 50 decibels during night time. Fireworks can be loud and can exceed 140 decibels. Noise at 85 decibels above can damage hearing. Increase in the sound levels can lead to restlessness, temporary or permanent hearing loss, high blood pressure, and sleep disturbance.
If the holiday celebrations have caused you or your family members respiratory problems, or concerns about the effects of the loud firecrackers on your hearing, you may need to have a check-up with your doctor.
Healthway Medical supports the DOH campaign for a safer and healthier New Year’s celebrations. This health information campaign is part of Healthway Medical’s commitment in increasing health awareness and promoting preventive care through practical tips for a healthier and happier lifestyle. To find out more about Healthway Medical’s services, call the Customer Care Hotline (02) 751 4929 or visit the Healthway Medical website at www.healthway.com.ph
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