Decrease in Fireworks-Related Injuries in 2023

Firecracker victims seek treatment at the Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center in Manila on January 1. PHOTO BY J. GERARD SEGUIA
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The Department of Health (DoH) has recently reported a decrease in fireworks-related injuries (FWRIs) in 2023 compared to the previous year, despite the lifting of Covid-19 pandemic restrictions. From December 21, 2023, to January 1, 2024, there were 231 FWRIs, a decrease from the 307 cases reported in 2022.

According to the DoH, this decrease in FWRIs is a cause for optimism and suggests a new hope for fewer injuries in the future. The data indicates that community fireworks displays across the nation have played a significant role in reducing the number of incidents.

Among the victims, the youngest was an 11-month-old baby boy from the National Capital Region (NCR) who suffered burns to his face and right eye due to an illegal piccolo ignited by someone on the street. On the other end of the age spectrum, a 76-year-old man from the Ilocos Region sustained an injury to his right eye while lighting a kwitis (skyrocket) at home.

The report also highlights three new amputation cases, bringing the total to 11. The majority of cases, 49 percent, were reported in the NCR, followed by 12 percent in Central Luzon and 10 percent in the Ilocos Region. Regions with the lowest number of cases include Davao Region, Mimaropa, Northern Mindanao, Central Visayas, and the Cordillera Administrative Region.

The DoH emphasizes that 95 percent of these incidents occurred at home or in the streets, with males being predominantly involved. This underscores the need for a collaborative effort among various sectors, including the health sector, local governments, law enforcement, trade and industry, and families themselves, to prevent injuries and deaths caused by fireworks.

To effectively monitor and record FWRIs, the DoH relies on the Online National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (Oneiss). This information system provides nearly real-time and epidemiologically sound national records of FWRIs. Surveillance is conducted from December 21 of the current year to January 5 of the following year, with two peak periods: the Christmas peak from December 24 to 26, and the New Year peak from December 31 to January 1.

Reflecting on the past 13 years of using Oneiss, the highest number of FWRI cases recorded was 1,021 in 2011, while the lowest was 123 in 2020. The DoH attributes the decrease in FWRIs to the implementation of Executive Order 28, signed on June 20, 2017. This order restricts firecrackers to community fireworks displays. However, the impact of this measure is not as significant as the blanket restrictions on movements and gatherings imposed in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The DoH stresses the importance of strong, consistent, and creative campaigns and messaging against firework injuries. It believes that further reductions in FWRI numbers can be achieved by consistently enforcing reasonable restrictions on the access to and use of any type of firework, by anyone, at home.

In conclusion, the decrease in fireworks-related injuries in 2023 compared to the previous year is an encouraging development. The data suggests that community fireworks displays and the implementation of certain regulations have contributed to this positive trend. However, it is crucial for all stakeholders to continue working together to ensure the safety and well-being of individuals during festive seasons. By raising awareness and enforcing responsible practices, we can create a safer environment for everyone to enjoy celebrations without unnecessary harm.

Source: The Manila Times

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