'Piccolo,' 'kwitis' most dangerous firecrackers
Mon, Dec 27, 2010
Philippine Daily Inquirer/Asia News Network

MANILA, Philippines - New Year's eve revellers, beware.

The "piccolo" and "kwitis" may be small, cheap and colourful, but they are regarded by health authorities as the most dangerous firecrackers in the country.

In the run-up to the New Year festivities, the Department of Health (DoH) had so far monitored 117 firecracker-related injuries in the last five days across the country, with the piccolo and kwitis as the top two causes of accidents.

In its daily report that began on Dec 22 as part of its "Kampanya Kontra Paputok," the DoH said Metro Manila had the highest number of injuries from fireworks, stray bullets and firecracker poisoning.

Of the 48 accidents in the metropolis, 42 cases were caused by firecrackers, five by stray bullets and one by "watusi" ingestion. Ten mishaps were monitored in Central Luzon and eight cases each in Western Visayas and Northern Mindanao.

Seven firecracker-related injuries have also been officially logged in Cagayan Valley and five in the Ilocos region.

The DoH said the 117 injuries monitored up to Sunday - 92 per cent of which were firecracker-related accidents - were 71 per cent higher than the previous five-year average but 9 per cent lower than last year.

The report also noted that 79 per cent of the cases were caused by illegal firecrackers, which included the piccolo, a small, inexpensive and colourful firecracker lighted like a matchstick.

As of Sunday, at least 46 mishaps had been traced to the piccolo while 13 cases were attributed to kwitis, a rocket-type firecracker which, when lit, is propelled into the air beyond 40 feet.

Victims mostly kids

Other dangerous firecrackers in the DoH report were the five-star, "whistle bomb," "boga" (a noisemaker also known as PVC cannon) and "luces" (sparklers).

So far, the DoH has logged 13 injuries caused by five-star firecrackers, six by whistle bombs, six by "trayanggulo" (triangle), five by luces, and five by boga.

The piccolo, "pla-pla," five-star, "atomic bomb," triangle, "Super Lolo," boga and watusi have been banned but the manufacture and sale of these dangerous firecrackers continue.

Forty-three per cent of the total number of firecracker-related accidents involved children aged 10 years old and below. More than 60 per cent of the injuries occurred in the streets, according to the report.

The six cases of bullet injuries are still being investigated by the Philippine National Police, said the health agency.

Two piccolo poisoning cases were monitored in Central Luzon while one incident was reported in Metro Manila.

The DoH warned that the piccolo may contain yellow phosphorous, which is the same toxic substance found in the equally lethal firecracker, watusi.

The health agency as early as October launched its campaign against the use of firecrackers, especially among the children, during the holiday revelries to curb the number of firecracker-related injuries this coming New Year.

Fireworks-related accidents recorded during the 2010 celebrations went up by 39 per cent to 990 cases from 717 the previous year.

Health Secretary Enrique Ona has also pitched for a safer holiday merrymaking by staging organised and communal fireworks displays in barangay or town plazas.

In this way, Ona said, the use of firecrackers among households - the common source of fireworks-related injuries during the New Year festivities - would be limited.

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