A worker makes firecrackers at a makeshift factory in Bocaue town, Bulacan province, north of Manila December 26, 2012. (MNS photo)

The Department of Health (DOH) is considering a ban on individual use of fireworks/firecrackers if injuries continue to rise during the holiday season despite its all-out efforts.

From 21-26 December, there were a total of 72 fireworks-related injuries. Of this number, 71 were due to fireworks and one stray bullet case. The number of cases is 33% lower compared to the same period last year. There were no deaths reported.

Last year for the same period, there were 108 fireworks-related injuries: 99 from fireworks, 8 from stray bullets, and 1 from firecracker ingestion.

Most of the cases came from the National Capital Region (20), Western Viasayas (12), and Cagayan Valley (6). CALABARZON, Central Visayas, and Zamboanga Peninsula had 5 cases each.

Majority (86%) of the cases were males. Ages of the cases ranged from nine months to 58 years. About 39% (28 cases) were children less than 10 years old. Most (59%) were active users of fireworks.

Majority (73%) of victims sustained blast injuries not requiring amputation, 20% (14) had eye injuries and 4% (3) were blasts requiring amputation.

The lone stray bullet victim was a 60-year old female from Cagayan de Oro City. She was hit on her left thigh on Christmas Eve at 10pm inside their house.

Health Secretary Enrique Ona noted that most cases happen during Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. He appealed to parents and caregivers to be vigilant on said dates and prevent them from playing/using firecrackers in their merrymaking activities.

The health chief also revealed that the DOH might consider a ban on the individual use of fireworks/firecrackers while it continues to push for a community display of fireworks to significantly bring down the number of casualties.

This means that LGUs should identify safe areas for community fireworks display and that with the imposition of the ban, only certain accredited organizations will be allowed to purchase these fireworks. This will further encourage development of legitimate firework manufacturers while discouraging fly-by-night manufacturers.

Ona explained that that the proposed ban will be a win-win solution because it will not result in the displacement of people in the fireworks industry and at the same time reduce preventable injuries due to fireworks/firecracker use. This option will be further discussed during consultations after the holidays.

Also, the DOH is urging church leaders to encourage their parishioners not to use fireworks/firecrackers in welcoming the New Year.

“There are more ways to be happy in welcoming the New Year. An injury in the family will not make our New Year happier,” Ona concluded.