Of all the distinctions in the world, being a hospital’s first victim of a firecracker-related injury was not one of those I looked forward to having. But I just became one, unfortunately.
Last Friday, after a day of books- and gifts-shopping, I was about to go home. I was crossing the street in front of this mall in Manila to reach my Uber ride when it happened. There was a loud bang near me and I felt something hit my leg. It wasn’t until I reached the sidewalk that I realized that the bang I heard was a firecracker explosion. I raised the hem of my pants and, to my horror, I saw that my right leg was bleeding.
The guilty looks of these children aged 10-12 years old as they stared at me confirmed that I had just been injured by a firecracker they had lit. There were about four of them and it looked like they were lying low waiting for their firecracker to explode. This was an area that is always dense with shoppers as it was in front of a mall surrounded by commercial establishments with numerous security officers yet no one appeared to have thought to stop these children from playing with firecrackers. Although it was closing time, there were still people around.
Thankfully, my ride waited as I purchased ethyl alcohol to clean my wound. He dropped me off at De Ocampo Memorial Medical Center in Sta. Mesa, which was on my way home. Thanks, Kuya Amorsolo! The doctors cleaned my wound with soap and water and gave me a tetanus shot on both my upper arms. Shoutout to Doctors Edgar and Gerry and another medical professional (whose name I was not able to get) for being so helpful. They said that although cleaning with alcohol was ok, cleaning with soap and water was actually the recommended first aid.
What to do in case of an injury due to firecracker, as advised by the Department of Health
- Clean the wound with clean, running water until all visible dirt and gunpowder residue is removed.
- Rush the victim to the nearest health facility for proper medical attention.
But as everyone should know, prevention is better than the cure. I shouldn’t be surprised that people continue to be so ‘pasaway‘ (term used for people with a habit of flouting the law as well as good sense) but I am surprised that these boys were so able to freely play with firecrackers in such a busy commercial center, which also happened to be just beside Manila City Hall.
Ban on Firecrackers
Last June, the President issued Executive Order (EO) No. 28 banning firecrackers. According to this EO, community firework displays may be allowed in malls, fiestas, events, parks, and exhibitions IF conducted under the supervision of a trained person licensed by the Philippine National Police (PNP). This makes it illegal to play with firecrackers if you are not duly licensed by the PNP to handle firecrackers. You can get arrested and face six months to one-year imprisonment and a minimum fine of P20,000 to a maximum of P30,000.
Hazard to health and the environment
Source: The Ecowaste Coalition
Even without this EO, I cannot for the life of me make any sense out of our culture of playing with explosive materials that, yearly, cause damage to life, limb, and property. Every year during the New Year, Metro Manila becomes like a war zone and it becomes very unsafe to even step out of the house.
An increased use of firecrackers causes air and noise pollution. The polluted air can cause throat, nose, and eye irritation, as well as aggravate asthma and cold allergies. Loud fireworks can exceed 140 decibels which can cause temporary or permanent hearing loss (standard noise level is only 60 decibels during daytime and 50 decibels during night time).
Our air quality suffers as well. In the last New Year revels, air pollution spiked to hazardous levels, becoming eight times more polluted than what the World Health Organization deemed safe for humans to breathe.
And, what about our pets and the stray animals in the streets? They also suffer.
Dr. Edgar says he never goes out at night during this time of the year. He shuts his house to the world. I suppose he has seen too many firecracker-related injuries to ever be complacent. He advises everyone to be vigilant. “Firecracker incidents can come from unexpected places–just like love,” he jokes.
I was lucky that I only suffered a minimal injury though my leg hurts and my arms are sore. But what about all those others who weren’t so lucky?
This new year, can we make a good change? Can we just stop playing with firecrackers already?
What’s your view on this? Comment below!