Ilocos Norte

DOH raises alarm on firecracker-linked psychological stress

John Michael Mugas

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DOH raises alarm on firecracker-linked psychological stress

Workers assemble differents kinds of firecrackers and fireworks inside several makeshift shacks in Bulacan province on December 27, 2022. Local manufacturers are rushing to meet the demand for locally produced fireworks for the coming New Year celebrations.

Jire Carreon/Rappler

The DOH identifies the types of firecrackers that have caused the highest number of fireworks-related injuries in the Ilocos region over the past three years

ILOCOS NORTE, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) in the Ilocos region has raised concerns about the potential psychological stress caused by firecrackers, especially illegal ones, during Christmas and New Year celebrations.

During a press briefing on Monday, December 18, Dr. Joyce Suguitan, a DOH medical officer, warned against exploding firecrackers known as “Five stars,” “Judas’s belt,” “Atomic bomb,” “Giant bawang,” “Goodbye Philippines,” and “Boga” (improvised cannon). 

The DOH said these are the types of firecrackers that have historically caused the highest number of fireworks-related injuries (FWRI) in the region over the past three years.

FIRECRACKER STALLS. Residents buy firecrackers to ring in 2023 at a designated zone in the capital city of Laoag in Ilocos Norte. John Michael Mugas/Rappler

Suguitan said revelers should not only be concerned about minor to life-threatening physical injuries caused by firecrackers but also about the psychological trauma resulting in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety disorders among individuals due to the explosions.

She said the loss of body parts during the holiday season has also been impacting the mental health of FWRI victims. 

“This specifically happens when they lose body parts which are responsible for fine motor movements and those which are regularly used while working, or in our daily lives,” according to Suguitan. 

She said 44% of the FWRI victims in the region have suffered from hand injuries.

Suguitan also warned of respiratory diseases caused by firecrackers emitting dangerous fumes and smoke, especially for those suffering from acute bronchitis and asthma.


She said the number of FWRI cases in the Ilocos region has increased in the past three years.

From 2022 to December 15 of this year, the DOH logged at least 100 FWRI incidents, with 74 in Pangasinan, 16 in La Union, seven in Ilocos Sur, and three in Ilocos Norte.

The Police Regional Office-I has intensified its crackdown on the use of “Boga” among minors ahead of the Christmas and New Year’s revelry.  

The regional DOH office warned that children should stay away from fireworks this holiday season as it revealed those belonging to the five-to-nine-year-old age group suffered the most from FWRI.

The health department said that 25% of the 60 FWRI recorded in 2022 comprised children from the age group. Most of them suffered from “blast and burn, and eye injury.”

Public health officials asked residents to be creative instead by finding alternative ways to make loud noises to ensure safety this holiday season.

Eat moderately

The health department also urged residents on Monday to stay healthy and eat moderately this holiday season to avoid suffering from chronic diseases.

Dr. Rheuel Bobis, DOH medical officer, said the holiday season resulted in an increase in cardiovascular cases in the region, with patients being rushed to hospitals because of elevated blood pressure and sugar levels.

Bobis cautioned people, especially those suffering from comorbidities, against excessive consumption of fatty, salty, and sweet food.

The increase in influenza-like illnesses this season also prompted the health department to encourage the public to keep the health protocols, particularly face mask-wearing, imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic. –

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