Text and Photos by Henrylito D. Tacio
Last December 6, the Department of Health (DOH), in partnership with five other government agencies, virtually launched the annual holiday campaign with the theme: “Ligtas Christmas sa Healthy Pilipinas.”
Among its partners are the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), and the Philippine National Police (PNP). The campaign aims to guide the public on easy and doable ways to safely celebrate the holiday season.
The campaign focuses on three main behaviors to keep Filipinos healthy amidst the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
For one, the campaign reminds the public to continuously practice the minimum public health standards: wearing face masks, physical distancing, washing hands with soap and water or alcohol, and avoiding places with too many people.
While there has been a decreasing number of COVID-19 cases in the country, Filipinos are advised not to let their guards down and prioritize the health and safety of their families by practicing the minimum public health standards.
“Patuloy nating isulong at obserbahan ang mga health protocols sa ating mga aktibidad ngayong kapaskuhan,” urged Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III.
For another, the campaign also suggests to Filipinos to choose healthier options during feasts and similar activities. This can be done through food moderation, consumption of well-balanced and nutrient-rich foods, avoidance of harmful intake of alcohol, and cessation of cigarette smoking and vaping.
Finally, the campaign also restricts the use of fireworks. This is done to prevent fireworks-related injuries. It can only be accomplished by avoiding its use and being prepared for accidents.
In 1992, Republic Act 7183 – an act regulating the sale, distribution, and use of firecrackers and pyrotechnic devices and also known as Firecrackers Law – was passed.
To continue the gains of the country in preventing firework-related Injuries, the health department reminds the public to use safer alternatives to firecrackers and pyrotechnic devices by participating in community fireworks displays and by using other noise and light-producing devices such as sound systems, light-emitting devices, percussion instruments, pans, tambourines, and bells.
During the virtual launch, DILG’s Supt. Warlito Daus enjoins the local government units across the country to implement the Oplan: Iwas Paputok campaign and to intensify the dissemination of information from their local government offices up to the community level.
For his part, PNP’s Police Major General Jesus Cambay informs the public of the prohibited firecrackers and pyrotechnic devices such as piccolo, watusi, judas belt, whistle bomb, goodbye earth, super lolo, and atomic big triangulo.
DTI Assistant Director Ferdinand Manfoste said that fireworks and pyrotechnic devices are being regulated. He explained how to decipher legal from illegal devices.
Every year after the Christmas celebration, TV shows all over the country always report the victims of firecrackers. This ranges from slight burns to blown-off fingers to death. Some of those who ignore those wounds may end up having tetanus.
Tetanus is an illness caused by tetanus bacteria, which thrive and live in soil, saliva, dust, and manure. The bacteria can enter the body through a cut or burn. The infection is characterized by the locking of the jaw, making it difficult for the patient to open his mouth and swallow. When this happens, the patient can die from suffocation.
BFP’s Supt. Analee Atienza of BFP reminds the public to aim for a fire-free holiday by knowing fire prevention and safety tips to prevent fire accidents and casualties.
It must be recalled that more than three dozen people were killed when a fire broke out at a shopping mall in Davao City a day before Christmas in 2017. Most of those who died were call center agents.
Another unforgettable event happened in Bansalan, Davao del Sur, in December 2009. An unidentified man threw a lighted cigarette butt in one of the stalls. Some of the firecrackers were lit; it soon spread to other stalls. There were smokes all over. Some pyrotechnic materials were so affected that soon they were flying towards the stores selling clothes and school supplies. Before long, a big fire happened.
Meanwhile, Thony Dizon of the EcoWaste Coalition pushes for the advocacy of safe toys for kids. He mentions the importance of choosing and buying the right kind of toys to ensure children’s safety and health, citing the requirements of RA 10620, or the Toy and Game Safety Labeling Act.
Hope everyone will be safe as we celebrate this Christmas season this year.