A week before New Year: Fireworks injuries exceed 2011’s

With numbers rising, the Department of Health is considering a total and partial ban in 2013

MANILA, Philippines – With a week to go before firecracker-packed New Year’s eve parties, fireworks-related injuries have already shot up to 44, already exceeding the number of incidents recorded in the same period last year.

“Fireworks injuries climb(ed) to 44 as of December 24, 2012 compared to 43 last year. Metro Manila leads all regions with 14 injuries,” said National Epidemiology Center head Eric Tayag on his Twitter account

A 22 year old man in Compostela Valley lost his thumb, index and middle fingers after picking up a “super lolo,” he tweeted. 

Based on data collected from 50 sentinel hospitals across the country between 6am on December 22 and 6am on December 24, the DOH’s compiled an Injury Registry showing:

  • The majority of injuries were in the National Capital Region. 32% or 14 of the 44 cases were in the NCR, followed by Region VI with 18% of cases and Region IX with 11%.
  • 41% or 18 of the cases were caused by seemingly safe piccolos, which look like a match
  • Most of the injuries, or exactly 80%, were among males. Their ages ranged from 4 to 58
  • 4% of the injuries occurred under the influence of alcohol
  • 32% of the cases were among children 10 years old and younger. But children accounted for almost half of the 987 firecracker-related injuries between December 21, 2011 and January 5, 2012.

Historically more firecracker injuries are reported during New Year so the rise in injuries this early in the holiday season is a cause of concern for the Department of Health, which, together with the Philippine National Police, is at the forefront of efforts to curb fireworks-related accidents.

However, the 44 cases are the same as the 5-year average between 2007 and 2011. 

Possible firecracker ban in 2013

The health department is considering a partial or total fireworks ban if many more Filipinos are injured this year.

“If we see the same numbers this year, then we might consider recommending a partial ban or total ban – a ban that can be discussed with other stakeholders,” Tayag said in an ABS-CBN interview.

However he added that he hopes the number of injuries will not exceed the 987 incidents from last year.

A ban is not unprecedented. The local government of Davao has already imposed a total ban on firecrackers.

In Davao City, at least 32 people have already been arrested for violating the ban, as of Christmas Eve, according to a report by DZBB radio.

The majority, or 26, of those arrested were minors. They were given a stern talk at the social welfare office and released to their parents. Meanwhile, the 6 adults who were taken in will “undergo inquest proceedings” the day after Christmas.

Davao may become the model for many other cities in 2013, if the DOH goes through with a total or partial fireworks ban. – Rappler.com