Are ‘torotot’ safer than firecrackers?

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BLOWING HIS HORN. A sidewalk vendor in Iloilo City demonstrates how to use a torotot which he says is a safer alternative to firecrackers when welcoming the New Year. IAN PAUL CORDERO/PN

ILOILO City – What’s the safest way to welcome the New Year?

For the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO), the torotot (paper or plastic hornpipe) is the safer alternative to firecrackers.

As part of its EOD CARE (Campaign and Advocacy Regarding Explosives), the city police recently organized a symposium on explosives and firecrackers.

Children were warned that firecrackers could harm; the torotot, on the other hand, was definitely safer, according to Senior Officer 2 Rina Salaya of ICPO’s Police Station 1.

EOD CARE’s objective was to inform children about the danger of explosives and firecrackers. It had the backing of the Police Regional Office 6.

Salaya said children were taught, among others, to stay away from being injured by firecrackers and other explosives.

Choose torotot over firecrackers in welcoming the New Year, some 350 pupils of Mabini Elementary School in the City Proper who attended the forum were told.

A group promoting non-toxic alternatives to firecrackers and fireworks, however, emphasized the need for parental supervision when children plan with torotot.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a partner of the Department of Health (DOH)-led Iwas Paputok campaign, issued the reminder.

“If torotot is the preferred noisemaker, parents should select a well-made torotot and supervise a child while she or he plays with it.  The importance of parental responsibility cannot be overemphasized as the torotots being sold in the market may contain zero instruction on proper use and their quality and safety cannot be guaranteed,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, of the EcoWaste Coalition.

While a torotot will not blow off a child’s fingers or give off toxic fumes, it may cause injuries requiring medical care as well as add to the revelry garbage, he warned.

Among the potential injuries from the use of torotot are:

* choking due to the accidental ingestion of the horn’s mouthpiece or whistle

* cuts or lacerations due to the sharp edges of the horn’s bell

* noise-induced hearing loss due to loud sounds

“A torotot contains small parts like the mouthpiece or whistle that can be detached and get swallowed by a child causing an airway blockage,” Dizon explained.

He cited the two choking incidents in 2010 involving children aged three and eight years old. These prompted the Food and Drug Administration to issue Health Advisory 2011-017 entitled “Warning on the Possible Choking Hazard Associated with the use of Torotot.”

“Some cone-shaped plastic horns have sharp edges that can cut a child’s sensitive skin,” said Dizon.

Also, some torotot may produce very loud sounds that can be harmful or distressing to humans as well as animals, added Dizon.

Sound exceeding 85 decibels can damage hearing, he said. (With a report from the EcoWaste Coalition/PN)

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