Despite the authorities' appeal to the public to use alternative methods of noise-making for the holiday revelries, the number of firecracker users has increased this year, according to the Department of Health (DOH).
Dr. Eric Tayag, assistant health secretary and National Epidemiology Center (NEC) director, said the number of firecracker users went up 8 per cent this year from 2012.
A total of 115 or 70 per cent of the reported fireworks-related injuries were sustained by active users of firecrackers, according to the "Aksyon: Paputok Injury Reduction 2013" report of the DOH-NEC, which started recording cases on Dec. 21.
Mostly caused by piccolo
The DOH noted that fireworks-related injuries continued to increase in the days leading to the New Year as it recorded a total of 170 injuries as of 6 a.m., Saturday. Most of the injuries were caused by "piccolo," a firecracker.
The number of recorded injuries was 167 in the same period last year.
Sixty-two per cent or 101 cases of fireworks-related injuries were caused by piccolo, a banned firecracker.
Tayag urged the Philippine National Police to intensify its crackdown on piccolo and other illegal fireworks, saying the DOH received reports that the items were being sold openly near a police station in Pasay City.
The DOH report also said that out of the 170 fireworks-related injuries, 78 cases or 46 per cent occurred in Metro Manila, followed by 17 cases in Northern Mindanao.
There was one case of firecracker ingestion and five cases of stray bullet injury. No deaths were reported.
Most of the injured were males, 49 of whom were children under 10. Forty-nine were passive users or bystanders.
Boy's right hand lost
One hundred forty-seven sustained blast injuries not requiring amputation and 16 suffered eye injuries. Two victims had blast injuries that needed amputation, the DOH said.
A 14-year-old boy who lost his right hand and an elderly man with a ruptured eyeball were among the worst injured so far,Tayag said. He tweeted that a five-year-old had also lost his right index finger from using fireworks.
Driving away bad spirits
Celebratory gunfire killed a four-year-old boy and more than 400 others were injured by powerful fireworks in the runup to 2013, according to police and health department tallies.
The Philippines, a country of 100 million people, traditionally greets the New Year by making noise in the belief it will drive bad spirits away.
Households start stockpiling fireworks around Christmas and start using them days before New Year's Eve.
Dangerous places in Metro
Apart from fireworks, gun owners are another seasonal hazard as they fire their weapons in the air to celebrate Christmas and New Year.
The DOH released yesterday a list of the most dangerous barangays in terms of firework-related injuries based on 2010-2012 reports.
Quezon City - Batasan Hills, Commonwealth, Holy Spirit, Payatas, Sto. Domingo and Krus na Ligas.
Manila - District 2, particularly Barangay 147-267 East Tondo; District 1 Barangay 1-146 West Tondo; District 3 Barangay 268-394; Binondo, Quiapo, San Nicolas and Sta. Cruz.
Mandaluyong - Addition Hills, Hulo, Barangka Drive, Poblacion, San Jose and Plainview.
Valenzuela - Hen. T. de Leon, Marulas, Karuhatan, Canumay, Malinta and Parada.
Las Piñas - Pulang Lupa Uno, BF International Village, Talon Dos, Pulang Lupa Dos and Fajardo.
Pasig - Pinagbuhatan, Bagong Ilog, Pineda, Bambang, San Miguel, Kapasigan, San Joaquin and Kalawaan.
Marikina - Malanday, Concepcion Uno, Parang and Sto. Niño.