THE government-run Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC) has recorded at least three persons who sustained injuries due to firecrackers on December 31 and January 1, two of whom are children.

Krizza Tupag, 10, a resident of Poblacion Claveria, Misamis Oriental, was playing with a sparkler on January 1 but was hit by its flame when she lift the sparkler upward. The flame fell on her left eye.

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Seven-year-old Cristy Navarro, meanwhile, was hit on her right eye when her neighbor lighted “kwitis” which accidentally landed on their house.

On December 31 at 11:45 p.m., Richard Ocer, 31, a resident of J.R. Borja Extension, suffered contusion on his right hand when he asked for a “piccolo” from his cousin, which blasted off in his hand.

Since Dec. 21, NMMC recorded at least 10 injuries related to firecrackers and pyrotechnics.

In 2007, at least 13 persons were treated with firecracker injuries at NMMC while in 2008, the figure rose to 17. More than half of these injuries were related to alcohol intake. The injuries included lacerations in the hands and other parts of the body, eye injuries and blast with burns.

Among the firecrackers that caused the injuries were triangulo (5 star), kwitis, piccolo, fountain, whistle bomb and doga.

In 2008, Northern Mindanao was among the top 10 regions in the country with the most number of cases related to firecrackers with 46 cases, 16 of which were in Cagayan de Oro.

Nationwide, the Department of Health (DOH) reported an increase in injuries related to firecrackers in 2009, surpassing its 2008 data.

Since Dec. 21, the DOH’s 41 sentinel hospitals recorded three deaths from firecracker-related injuries and 848 were hurt due to firecracker blasts, stray bullets, and watusi ingestion.

Based on the record, 807 people were injured by firecrackers, 118 of them sustaining eye injuries; 69 had limbs amputated, mostly fingers; and the rest suffering from blast burns. At least 40 persons were also hit by stray bullets.

In 2008, the DOH only recorded 683 injuries with 17 victims of stray bullets.

The DOH listed piccolo as the leading cause of recorded firecracker injuries. Earlier, DOH officials had been appealing to the police for the last two years to ban piccolo which children found attractive.

The three fatalities of the holiday transition from 2009 to 2010 were a seven-year-old boy from Central Luzon who reportedly died after suffering from a brain injury caused by a kwitis explosion; a 29-year-old man from the Cordillera Autonomous Region who also died of a brain injury after he was injured by a jumbo kwiton bomb; and a 46-year-old man also from Central Luzon who died after sustaining severe blast wounds from another type of firecracker. (Terry D.C. Betonio)