As the holiday season approaches, the Department of Health (DOH), in partnership with the Philippine National Police (PNP), the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), and other government agencies, urges us to continue taking care of ourselves by following their three-part campaign consisting of Iwas Paputok, Healthy Handaan, and Healthy Celebrations.
Healthy Handaan provides insights into mindful food consumption; Healthy Celebrations teaches us best practices for responsible celebrations; and finally, we have Iwas Paputok, which is a campaign dedicated to preventing fireworks-related injuries.
Holidays in the Philippines, especially Christmas and New Year's, have always featured the use of fireworks for celebration. Whether it’s to ward off evil spirits, to make noise, or just to have fun looking at the brilliant lights, fireworks have always been a part of the Filipino holiday experience. However, beneath the flashing lights lies a darker reality: fireworks come with risks.
Mishandling of fireworks has been known to cause burns, hearing damage, the loss of fingers and limbs, physical and mental trauma, poisoning, and, in the worst cases, death, not just to humans but also to animals as well. Debris and embers from fireworks also pose risks to the environment and have the potential to cause hazards such as fires, environmental damage, and toxicity.
Because of the restrictions on public gatherings due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we, as a nation, have seen a decline in fireworks-related injuries (FWRI) in the past few years, with the pandemic years having FWRI rates falling below the ten-year averages. However, now that restrictions are being relaxed, the potential for an increase in FWRIs needs to be addressed. To this end, the DOH recommends the following steps in its Iwas Paputok program:
As we celebrate the holiday season, let us all prioritize the well-being of our loved ones and ourselves. Focusing on a safe and memorable holiday season through Iwas Paputok not only minimizes risks but also allows us to avoid needing to spend time and money on emergency healthcare services during the holiday season. Let us worry less and celebrate more! Ligtas Christmas para sa Healthy Pilipinas!