Avoiding New Year Mishaps: Guidelines For Big Kids And Other Family Alternatives
New Year’s Eve is synonymous to ER visits in our country. Contributor and dad, Kensai Yonzon, gives some guidelines on firecrackers for your big kids as well as other alternatives to firecrackers for your family.
Perhaps the biggest concern for a lot of parents during the New Year are fireworks. Parents of toddlers or preschoolers might consider themselves lucky that their kids are still too young to play with firecrackers on their own. However, on the other hand, kids below 6 years old are also old enough to wander off by themselves, which can be just as dangerous.
Fortunately, the use of firecrackers in the country has declined over the years, owing to some bans as well as tightening budgets. That said, celebrating the New Year with firecrackers is inevitable, and we're all bound to have neighbors (if it's not ourselves) who will launch fireworks to greet the coming year with a literal bang. Needless to say, always keep an eye on your little ones!
Explaining Firecrackers To Your Big Kid If you have children old enough to handle firecrackers (big kids, around 7 years old and up) make sure to educate them well about it. Firecrackers are made with gunpowder, a substance made from a mix of sulfur, charcoal, and potassium nitrate. Without having to resort to a chemistry lecture, it can be explained in this manner: gunpowder explodes. Explosions are dangerous. If your family celebrates the New Year with firecrackers—sometimes unavoidable as it's part of our culture—just make sure your children are well aware of the risks involved.
Of course, the absolute best solution would be to keep your children away from firecrackers in the first place. Let the handling of fireworks be an adult thing. At most, allow them to hold a stick of lucis or sparkler and always with adult supervision. Even watusis, those red dancing firecrackers, can cause minor burns. Even worse, they look like candy to children, and this is even more dangerous than the burns. Watusi is poisonous when ingested and is often fatal. Have the number of poison control on hand (Poison Control Manila - 02-521-8450).
If you let your child light a firecracker, teach them to never hold the firecracker when they're lighting it. Place the firecracker securely on the ground or on a stable surface while they light it with a match or a long lighting stick. Once it's lit, they should back away a good distance and wait for it to fire off and never, under any circumstances, approach it again if it doesn't go off!
Do not let your children touch or handle used or unused firecrackers even after New Year’s Eve. There have been incidents of children gathering firecracker residue which resulted in a trip to the Emergency Room.
Other Alternatives To Lighting Firecrackers At Home If you can manage to steer your family away from such a dangerous tradition, all the better.
Watch some public displays of fireworks, instead. There are many other, cheaper alternatives to fireworks these days, and many public places have made an event of fireworks displays in recent years. This year's Pyro Olympics was held during weekends in November and early December, but many other places plan fireworks displays during New Year's Eve. Bond with your family while watching the gorgeous pyrotechnics, which is many times better and safer than setting off firecrackers at home.
Another alternative is to use noisemakers instead. Considering the use of firecrackers during the New Year stems from the Chinese tradition of frightening evil spirits, noise works just as well. Give your kids trumpets, drums, rattles or whatever device you find suitable, and they will enjoy this rare opportunity to make as much noise without being told to quiet down!
New Year celebrations are a wonderful experience for children, and many of us have fond memories of them as a child. Make New Year's Eve memorable without putting your family at risk. With the increasing number of options now for public fireworks displays, and the safe option (except for our eardrums, that is!) to simply make noise, the holiday has never been safer. Just make sure to keep some basic safety in mind, and you're all set on building wonderful memories for your children, too.