Cabaero: Waning interest in firecrackers

Nini Cabaero

BLAME it on typhoon Ursula or people having other priorities but the number of firecracker-related injuries in the region went down 63.6 percent last Christmas compared to 2018 figures.

The Central Visayas Department of Health’s Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (Resu) said that from the 11 recorded injuries last year, only four were reported on Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2019. Two of the injured were from Mandaue City, one from Talisay City in Cebu, and one from Lazi, Siquijor, a SunStar Cebu report said.

This time, the Resu added, those injured had mostly burns with not one needing amputation. We were able to save fingers and hands. Last year, two persons suffered burns with amputation.

Before that, or by last Dec. 22, only two fireworks-related injuries were reported in the Health department’s nationwide surveillance.

Although health officials didn’t say what contributed to the decrease, typhoon Ursula played a role in literally dampening the urge to light a firecracker last Christmas Eve.

In Cebu City, the rain poured hard Tuesday night just as people were going or preparing to go to mass. Those who did go to church got drenched, while many ditched plans that night and decided to hear mass on Christmas Day itself. When midnight came, only a shower remained. A few firecrackers were exploded, enough to be heard and noticed but not enough for someone to rush out to watch the sky turn bright.

Another reason for this waning interest in firecrackers is the Health department’s drive to discourage their use. Posters were displayed in public places and on hospital walls showing disfigured hands, blasted fingers and children who became blind because of eye injuries caused by firecracker blasts or sparks. One can also get poisoned from touching those watusi and other poisonous material in pyrotechnics.

Those graphic posters show blasted flesh, bones sticking out of what used to be fingers, and plenty of blood.

The campaign to educate the public, especially children, of the risks of playing with firecrackers finally gained ground, if you based it on the dwindling number of cases of injuries.

Aside from Ursula and the effective scare tactics of health offices, what also worked is the high prices of Christmas goodies and gifts so that the budget-conscious crushed out pyrotechnics from the list. Let’s not buy. Let’s just watch others fire away. That must have been the agreement that happened between parents and children.

Authorities have also made it difficult to procure fireworks. Not many are seen being sold on sidewalks and in malls. The only place where pyrotechnic products can be sold is in a portion of F. Vestil St. in Barangay Mambaling near the SM Seaside City. Not anymore at the old place at the South Road Properties. Anyone who sells outside of the firecracker zone will be stopped and hauled to face charges.