December is Firecracker Injury Prevention Month, when government agencies and private organizations launch an anti-firecracker campaign to reduce injuries caused by the use of firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices during the holiday celebration. Protection of the public, particularly children, from firework-related injuries is a main concern. The sale and use of harmful firecrackers are strictly monitored, with the objective of zero casualties. The Department of Health (DOH) leads the yearly campaign. Administrative Order 2014-0002, the Revised National Policy on Violence and Injury Prevention, issued last January defines the roles and responsibilities of DOH and major players, to reduce mortality, morbidity and disability due to intentional and unintentional injuries, including fireworks-related. Graphic images of victims who lost lives and limbs are published in newspapers and shown on television as reminders of serious consequences of careless firecrackers handling. Most of the victims are children aged 14 and below, who suffer from burns on face, arms, and hands. Local chief executives are urged to set up firecracker and pyrotechnic zones in their localities where vendors may sell firecrackers and where people may celebrate. Revelers are advised by the Department of the Interior and Local Government to come up with alternative noise-making activities like fireworks, street concerts, and the use of vehicle horns, cans, pots and pan, and radio music. The Department of Trade and Industry inspects factories to identify harmful fireworks, the Bureau of Customs prevents the entry of illegal firecrackers, and the Philippine National Police ensures that police service firearms and those owned by private individuals will not be used for indiscriminate firing. Two cities – Davao and Zamboanga – have imposed a total ban on the sale and use of firecrackers. Republic Act 7183, the Firecrackers Law, regulates the manufacture, distribution, sale, and use of firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices because they contain chemicals that may cause respiratory problems and their mishandling can result in serious injuries, even to bystanders. But despite warnings, safety tips, and bans on certain firecrackers, many Filipinos continue to celebrate dangerously; some even devise homemade pyrotechnics. DOH reported the revelry toll last year at 962 injuries, of which 943 were from firecrackers, mostly caused by illegally imported piccolo, firework ingestion, and stray bullets. The DOH has issued some do’s and don’ts: Light firecrackers outdoors. Light one firecracker at a time. Do not hold a firecracker while lighting it. Do not pick up failed firecrackers as they can still explode. When lighting fireworks like a fountain, do not bend directly over the pyrotechnic. Do not throw firecrackers at passing people or vehicles. Do not let children hold firecrackers. Ingestion of firecrackers like watusi calls for prompt medical attention, the DOH said.
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