'Ingat pa rin': Public reminded of possible hazards in safer firework alternatives

James Relativo - Philstar.com
'Ingat pa rin': Public reminded of possible hazards in safer firework alternatives
Filipino shoppers start buying party horns at Divisoria Market in Manila on Monday, Dec. 26, 2022, days before the 2023 New Year celebrations.
The STAR / Walter Bollozos

MANILA, Philippines — Environmental group EcoWaste Coalition reminds parents to supervise the purchase and use of merrymakers this 2023, as many of the "safer" alternatives to fireworks still pose threats to children.

Many Filipinos opt for torotots, light-up hand clappers, spinning pens and wands to welcome the New Year every year not thinking that they too have their own dangers if one's not careful.

"Seemingly harmless alternative merrymakers used during the New Year’s Eve revelry may contain loosely attached parts that can get disconnected and swallowed by a child posing choking, internal burn and/or chemical hazard," warns Aileen Lucero, national coordinator of EcoWaste Coalition.

"Parents and other adults should see to it that such merrymakers are well-made and that kids are informed and supervised on their safe use."

The group's latest market monitoring found that light-up hand clappers, spinning pens and wands with button cell battery compartments that can be easily broken or opened.

Said items are "improperly labeled" and have reportedly not undergone any toy product quality and safety verification by health authorities.

"These merrymakers with flashing LED lights are often not sturdily made. A child may drop the toy or open the battery compartment out of curiosity releasing the tiny button cell batteries," adds Lucero.

"A child may put the batteries in the mouth and choke on them, or accidentally insert them on her or his ear and nose."

Button cell batteries also pose hazards such as internal burn and chemical hazards. The battery also generates a current that producers small amounds of sodium hydroxide (lye), as explained by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Lye burns a hole in parts of the body where it could get stuck, which usually causes infection.

It could reportedly cause serious injury and illness, long-term disability or even death.

'Torotots can be hazards, too'

For years, careful parents have bought the relatively harmless torotot in hopes that it won't blow off their children's fingers. It could still be used as an alternative, but they would need to do some checking.

"However, the mouthpiece or whistle of some types of ‘torotot’ can get detached and be swallowed by a child causing choking hazard. Others have sharp edges that can cause abrasions and cuts," according to the coalition.

"Like the light-up merrymakers, most, if not all, of the ‘torotots’ sold in the market are not authorized by the health authorities and are not duly labeled... The quality and safety of these toys cannot be assured."

The Department of Health (DOH) earlier reminded people to only use torotots in open spaces and to not share it with others to minimize the risk of transmitting COVID-19 through respiratory droplets.

DOH discouraged, but not banned, the use of said noise making horns in 2020 and 2021 for the same reasons.

What parents, adults could do

To prevent hazards like choking, internal burns and chemical hazards, the EcoWaste Coalition urged parents to heed the following tips:

For light-up hand clappers, wands, spinning pens, etc.:

  • select one that's sturdily made
  • avoid buying light-up toys if the button cell battery compartments can be broken or opened easily
  • avoid allowing children to handle and install button cell batteries and never let them play with them

For the torotot:

  • choose one that is well made
  • inform the child about the proper use of torotot
  • do not run with a torotot in hand
  • do not blow a torotot while running.
  • do not use a torotot if its muzzle is broken or damaged
  • do not blow a torotot on another person’s ears

"Adequate adult supervision is recommended when children play with these toys to keep them out of harm’s way," suggests Lucero.

vuukle comment








  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with