Increase in Fireworks-Related Injuries in 2023 – DoH Report

A youth is treated in the hospital in Manila 01 January 2006 after being injured by a firework during New Year's celebration in Manila. Hundreds are injured yearly in the Philippines where the New Year is greeted in riotous revelry by exploding firecrackers and firing guns in the air.AFP PHOTO Joel NITO
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The Department of Health (DoH) has released its final bulletin on fireworks-related injuries (FWRIs) for the year 2023, revealing a significant increase compared to the previous year. In 2023, a total of 609 FWRIs were reported, marking a staggering 98 percent rise from the 307 cases recorded in 2022.

The surveillance period, which began on December 21, 2023, and lasted until January 6, 2024, saw the DoH’s Online National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (Oneiss) documenting the 609 FWRIs, highlighting the concerning upward trend.

Out of the total cases, 601 were attributed to fireworks, while one case was due to Watusi ingestion, and seven were stray bullet injuries. Tragically, the DoH reported two confirmed deaths, both resulting from a blasting incident in the Ilocos Region.

The first fatality occurred on January 2 and involved a 38-year-old man who, while drinking alcohol with others near a storage area for firecrackers, lit a cigarette, leading to the fatal blast. The second death was reported on January 5, involving a 44-year-old man who had previously been injured in the same firecrackers depot explosion.

The DoH believes that the lifting of Covid-19 pandemic restrictions may have contributed to the increase in FWRIs during the 2023 festivities. With the Yuletide season being celebrated without the constraints of pandemic measures, more people may have chosen to use fireworks. However, the DoH emphasizes that this hypothesis requires further study to establish a definitive connection.

Analyzing the geographical distribution of FWRIs, Metro Manila accounted for 52 percent of the cases, followed by 10 percent in the Ilocos Region, 8 percent in Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon), and 7 percent in Central Luzon.

In terms of the types of injuries sustained, 5 percent involved blasts and burns resulting in amputation, 74 percent had blasts/burns without amputation, and 26 percent were eye injuries, with one case resulting in confirmed blindness. Additionally, two victims experienced hearing loss.

The majority of FWRIs, approximately 96 percent, occurred in homes and on the streets, with males being predominantly involved in the incidents.

Interestingly, the DoH noted that the allowed fireworks, such as kwitis, luces, whistle bombs, and fountains, caused more injuries than the prohibited ones, including 5-star, pla-pla, and boga. This highlights the need for increased awareness and safety measures even with the use of permitted fireworks.

It is important to note that the number of stray bullet injuries is still being validated by the Philippine National Police, which means the overall count may change in the coming days as more information becomes available.

The rise in FWRIs during the 2023 festivities serves as a reminder of the potential dangers associated with fireworks. While they can bring joy and excitement to celebrations, it is crucial to prioritize safety by following local laws, customs, and guidelines. By doing so, we can minimize the risk of injuries and ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone.

Remember, it is always better to leave fireworks displays to the professionals and attend authorized public events to celebrate without compromising safety.

Source: The Manila Times

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