Tackle the use of firecrackers from every angle

Dear Editor,
The Region Three Police Commander, Errol Watts, rightly emphasised that “The Guyana Police Force [GPF] will ensure that we robustly enforce all laws with respect to the use of squibs and firecrackers around this time, so that our animals and people can be safer throughout this holiday period and beyond. Rest assured, I’m going to brief my commissioner and we’re going to ensure that we circulate nationally, instructions for this effort to be intensified so as to bring peace and tranquillity to our animals and safety to our people.”
Let me commend this kind of mindset, as it is already quite late in our Guyanese culture to stem the tide of ‘having dangerous fun at the expense of all others – people, property and animals”. A recent editorial noted: “Playing with firecrackers is no longer fun. One of the major concerns about the practice is that citizens cannot distinguish between the sound of a firecracker popping and a gun being fired. With the proliferation of firecrackers during these holidays, gun-toting bandits would have an easy time escaping after committing their acts.” To this aspect, I add that ‘gun-toting’ bandits, in proliferation these days, need not fire; the gun is a commanding weapon and, most times, dictates compliance. What I am quite concerned about are the immediate and lasting effects of these thunderous and highly flammable explosives that are so easy to access in numbers and money (as they seem to be quite affordable).
Let us face it. Our people are not only ill-informed, but are unwilling, uninterested or even incapable of understanding the horror of these explosives. We need to realise that firecrackers have severe effects on people with heart disease, respiratory or nervous system disorders. It can also aggravate problems for people suffering from common colds and coughs as well as cause congestion of throat and chest. Overall, infants, elders and the sick require peace and serenity. They are generally weak-hearted and cannot bear sudden shock or trauma. Their lungs and nostrils too are very tender. Smoke and other gases produced while burning firecrackers could suffocate them to death. It is that serious.
Medically, it is well-established that noise is not just irritating; it can have direct human health impacts. Indeed, chronic exposure to noise levels above 55dB dramatically increases the risks of heart disease and stroke, while aircraft noise has been shown to impact the development of reading skills in children attending schools close to busy airports. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that in Europe at least a million healthy life years are lost every year due to traffic noise. Here in Guyana, our bodies are being bombarded daily, and we still remain dormant. We need to wake up.
I followed recently in England, that a baby boy was hit by fireworks and is still suffering from serious burns. He was taken to hospital after emergency services were called in. The report stated that the infant sustained significant burns, but his injuries are not believed to be life-threatening. This was just last month, during which three budgies, among 34 belonging to a rescue centre in England, started “panicking and flying around”, and suffered from seizures. Locally, I recall how an Anna Catherina man and his son were severely beaten after a row with two men who were throwing firecrackers in front of their gap. This matter is still left untended. In my street, two vendors publicly sell firecrackers and they are well-supported. What am I to surmise?
I posit that if the GPF really has the will to bring about a change and reverse the ‘fire-cracking’ trend, then it can do so. Officers need to make a deliberate and concerted effort to track down the sellers, and then in the event firecrackers go off, hunt down those involved and apart from charging them, make sure that the source of the product is investigated.
On a closing note, I want to know what the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is doing or if it has any say in this matter.
Yours truly,
H Singh