Cebu News

DOH: Give age-appropriate, safe gifts

Jessa J. Agua, Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon/ATO - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - When choosing Christmas gifts especially for kids, one must consider the age and stage of the recipient to avoid unintentionally harming them.

This was the one of the latest reminders of Department of Health this season of giving.

“Dili ta pasagad og palit og toys. Abi kay nindot, paliton na. It should be quality. Something not too sharp and too small to fit the nose, ears and mouth kay magkaproblema unya ta,” said Health Emergency Management Staff chief Dr. Expedito Medalla.

Medalla further warned the public against toys with harmful chemical contents.

The government strictly prohibits selling of toys with lead content as it could poison the children, especially when bitten.

The DOH has released a guide for buying gifts for young ones.

For children under three years old, the following are prohibited: ball with a diameter of 1.75 inches or less so as to prevent choking; glass or brittle plastics; small detachable parts or pieces; with sharp points and edges; with electrical parts; with parts that could pinch or entrap fingers/toes/hair; with parts put together by straight pins/sharp wires/nails that are exposed and easily detached.

Toys that are advised for zero to one year old babies are rattles, large brightly colored balls, unbreakable mirrors with steel borders, washable stuffed dolls or animals with big clearly outlines faces.

Wooden animals, dolls, sturdy kiddie cars, modeling clay and rocking horses are among the advisable gifts for toddlers aged 2 to 3 years old.  For preschoolers (4 to 5 years old), puppets, push toys, building blocks, balls and kites are deemed appropriate.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and toxic watchdog, is also reminding consumers anew to be mindful in buying or giving gifts for Christmas.

 The coalition issued the statement after 57 of the 100 common gift items they screened using an X-Ray Fluorescence device were found laden with toxic substances, particularly lead, cadmium, and arsenic.

“We are aghast to find that some Christmas goodies out there are like gifts in Pandora’s box, cloaked with hazardous chemicals that can pose health risks to consumers,” said Thony Dizon, coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect, in a statement.

“To get the best value for our hard-earned money, we need to assert our inherent rights as consumers for product information and safety, including the chemical contents of a product and their effects to health and the environment if any,” Dizon said.

Lead, cadmium and arsenic are among the “ten chemicals of major public health concern” as identified by the World Health Organization.

Lead is a known neurotoxin, which attacks the nervous system. Small children are especially more vulnerable to the damaging effects of lead, as “even relatively low levels of exposure can cause serious and in some cases irreversible neurological damage,” according to the WHO.

“It’s worrisome that many of the items are improperly and insufficiently labeled, depriving consumers access to product information that is vital to making sound purchasing decisions,” Dizon added.

Starting Sunday, December 21, the entire Central Visayas region will be placed under code white, which means government hospitals will be on the look-out for possible injuries and health emergencies during the Christmas and New Year celebrations.

The code white status will be lifted on January 5.  The public is likewise cautioned not to eat and drink too much and keep, as much as possible, a healthy lifestyle.

This year’s holidays campaign of the DOH is dubbed “Mahalaga ang Buhay, Iwasan ang Paputok: Salubungin ang Bagong Taon ng Ligtas, Masaya at Puno ng Pag-asa.” —  (FREEMAN)

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