Officials begin seasonal campaign to prevent fireworks injuries

A.M. Costa Rica file photo
These illegal rockets were acquired easily for New Year’s last December.

“Zero burned, zero suffering, zero pain, zero deaths,” chanted 60 children from the Juan Rafael Mora Porras school.

The students have been working with the Cruz Roja to learn about the danger of playing with fireworks, especially illegal ones made from gunpowder.

The phase “zero burned, zero suffering, zero pain, zero deaths,” is the campaign created by the Ministerio de Salud, the security ministry, the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social, the Cuerpo de Bomberos, Cruz Roja Costarricense and the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad. Thursday marked the first day of firework sales in the country for the holiday. The period will continue until Jan. 31.

In this time the organizations want to make sure that no children are hurt, said Orlando Urroz Torres, the subdirector of Hospital de Niños

The security ministry reported that last October 35,000 units of gunpowder were confiscated. They included bomblets, quarter sticks of dynamite, rockets, butterflies, dragon eggs and missiles.

The campaign will work to educate both children and adults through mass medias such as radio, television and social networks about the different types of gunpowder and its
danger, and give reports on relevant legislation which includes three to seven years jail time for those caught selling illegal fireworks.

The police will be working to find and confiscate illegal fireworks, said Mario Zamora, the minister of Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública.

“We will intensify efforts in prevention, and to the validity of the legislation which regulates and penalizes with imprisonment illegal trade in products made from gunpowder. We will not give up,” Zamora said.

Despite all precautions, however, it will ultimately be up to the parents to make sure that both they and the children are acting responsible during festivities, said Juan José Andrade Morales, director general of the Fuerza Pública.

The officials urged those who find persons selling illegal fireworks to call the 911 emergency number.

The fireworks are a traditional part of the Christmas season and as the new year arrives, Costa Rica skies are filled with all kinds of illegal rockets. And there is the occasional injury to a youngster. There are fewer such injuries now because officials have maintained an anti-fireworks campaign for several years.

There are, however, secret fireworks factories in Costa Rica and the steady flow of foreign fireworks from the north and the south.

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