As public elementary and high schools get ready for an early Christmas break starting this Saturday, the EcoWaste Coalition advised students to stay away from all types of firecrackers to avoid bloody injuries, as well as toxic pollution, during the holidays.
At the launch of the group’s annual “Iwas Paputoxic” campaign held today at the Jose Rizal Elementary School (JRES) in Tondo, Manila, the EcoWaste Coalition impressed upon the 1,000 students assembled that it is better to be safe than sorry as firecracker injuries can be very painful, irreparable and even life-threatening.
“Firecrackers can cause injuries that can put your lives at serious risk, so please stay safe and never ever play with these dangerous items,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition, noting that the city of Manila registered with the most number of firecracker injuries in last year’s revelry (116 out of 463 cases nationwide).
“Firecrackers contaminate our surroundings with toxic emissions that can make people, especially those with heart, nervous or respiratory problems, very sick, while scattering hazardous litter in our streets and in faraway communities where such waste is dumped,” he added.
For her part, Mrs. Minda Napilay, Principal of JRES, said: “By not lighting firecrackers, we can have a cleaner and safer New Year celebration for all kids and their families. Money intended for injurious and polluting firecrackers is better spent to meet the basic needs of the family such as health-giving food on the table.”
Miss Earth Philippines 2018 Silvia Celeste Cortesi, Miss Air Philippines 2018 Zahra Bianca Saldua, Miss Fire Philippines 2018 Jean Nicole de Jesus, and several Department of Health, Bureau of Fire Protection, Philippine National Police and barangay officials joined the event. Dozens of JRES parents dressed as Santa Claus were also present to lend their support to the campaign.
“With the active backing from all sectors, we can prevent and reduce the number of firecracker injuries, as well as improve the air quality in our communities,” Dizon said.
During the event, the students staged a lively countdown to the New Year featuring alternatives to firecrackers such as cymbals and drums using pots and lids, maracas made out of tin cans, tambourine from flattened softdrink crowns, torotot and other noisemakers.
Adding to the fun was the mass “Boom, Tarat, Tarat” dancing by the students brandishing mostly home-made alternative noisemakers
To emphasize the dangers to life and limb of playing with piccolo – a small but very dangerous firecracker – the students sang en masse a modified version of the nursery rhyme “Ako ay may lobo.” According to DOH’s most recent surveillance data, piccolo caused 33% of 463 cases of firecracker-related injuries, followed by kwitis (12%).
The event also saw the students reciting a pledge not to touch and use firecrackers to ensure their health and safety, and to protect the environment.
Rather than spend for firecrackers and fireworks, the EcoWaste Coalition encouraged families to choose substitute noisemakers fashioned out of typical household materials and junks.
The group further appealed to families, businesses, big corporations, shopping malls and local government units not to spend for firecrackers and fireworks, and to use the money saved to help the poor and the needy in our society.
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