Parents Reminded to Supervise Children's Use of Merrymakers to Keep Them Out of Harm's Way

To keep children out of harm’s way, the EcoWaste Coalition pressed for adult supervision when kids play with merrymakers such as light-up hand clappers, spinning pens and wands, and the substitute noisemaker “torotot.”

“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,” warned Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, 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.”

In its latest market monitoring, the group found light-up hand clappers, spinning pens and wands with button cell battery compartments that can be easily broken or opened. The items, which are improperly labeled, have not undergone toy product quality and safety verification by the 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. A child may put the batteries in the mouth and choke on them, or accidentally insert them on her or his ear and nose,” she said.

Aside from choking hazards, the button cell batteries also pose internal burn and chemical hazards. As explained by the American Academy of Pediatrics, “when it comes into contact with body fluids, the battery generates a current that produces small amounts of sodium hydroxide, which is lye. If the battery gets stuck somewhere in the body, the lye burns a hole at that spot. Infection usually follows. The result can be serious injury and illness, long-term disability, or even death.”

“Unlike firecrackers, playing with a ‘torotot’ will not blow off a child’s fingers or cause eye injuries. 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,” said Lucero.

“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,” she added. “The quality and safety of these toys cannot be assured.”  

To prevent choking, internal burn and/or chemical hazards, the EcoWaste Coalition urged parents to heed the following safety tips:
  • For light-up hand clappers, wands, spinning pens and similar merrymakers:
    1. Select one that is sturdily made.
    2. Don't buy light-up toys if the button cell battery compartments can be broken or opened easily.
    3. Do not allow children to handle and install button cell batteries and never let them play with them.
  • For “torotot”:
    1. Choose one that is well made.
    2. 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,” the group said, emphasizing “be aware that most of these toys have not gone through the required quality and safety verification.”