I dislike firecrackers. Period.

FUNNY, but were always associate our New Year’s revelry with firecrackers, as if it will bring us good luck.

But look at our misfortune. Right now,  government statistics already showed that nearly 200 people have been injured, most of them children, resulting from those nasty misuse of cheap- and expensive –firecrackers and pyrotechnics.

After the New Year’s Eve celebration, we are international news because it is in this country with the  most number of casualties.

Embarrassing isn’t it? Yet that’s what we consider fun.

It’s also ironic that our Philippine National Police would always launch an “Oplan Paputok,” just to discourage illegal firecrackers, although  we can see them being peddled all over town.

Our lawmen are just wasting their time trying to be visible on the streets only to find out that have become to the chaotic situation.

In the meantime, all our government and private hospitals are being swarmed by casualties. And wait till our neighbors’ houses are burned down, resulting from this firecracker madness. These are  clear signs of a breakdown in law and order in this country. Yes, that is how we welcome the New Year.

Despite this lawlessness, it is really encouraging that we still have some concerned groups that are  desperately trying to discourage the use of firecrackers and pyrotechnics.

For instance, an environmental watchdog and an animal welfare group have teamed up to remind citizens to be kind to our animal friends and protect them from the harmful noise and fumes of firecrackers and other pyrotechnics during the New Year celebrations.

The  EcoWaste Coalition and the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) even  jointly called on the people  to shun firecrackers and act responsibly towards animals in an event held outside the Manila Zoo.

To dramatize the traumatic effects of firecrackers to animals, youth members of Maskara-Green Stage Filipinas acted out a skit that ended with a scene showing performers donning cat and dog headgears hiding under the bed because of the frightening booms and bangs during the warlike New Year revelries.

As Ailen Lucero of the EcoWaste Coalition puts it,” to us humans the noise of firecrackers can be an inconvenience, but to animals – such as dogs and cats – with highly sensitive hearing, that same noise can be the equivalent of a cannon going off near them.”

I agree with  Lucero that magnifying the   bulk of firecrackers all going off at once on New Year’s Eve, we can just imagine the “mega-torture” that the day brings to our animals. And human beings, too!

Elsie Araneta, the director of PAWS, on the other hand, noted that the explosive and unpredictable bangs, the choking fumes, and the bright displays of light hurt the highly sensitive ears, powerful noses, and keen eyesight of dogs and truly frighten them.

She said that 90 per cent of the calls that PAWS get during the days approaching New Year and right after the festivities were about animals  who got lost because they were spooked by firecrackers or those who were injured due to firecrackers.

These groups also bemoaned the fact that, while firecrackers have already been proven to be detrimental to human and environmental health due to the danger of injuries and contamination from the toxic emissions, very little is written about their impacts on the health of the metro’s animal population.

So here  are some tips that they want to share with the public:

1. Persuade members of your household to make your home a “no firecracker” zone.

2. Politely tell your neighbors not to light or throw firecrackers near your home.

3. Exercise your pets during the days leading up to the New Year’s Eve and in the next morning when the festivities are over and the smoke has cleared.

4. Give your pets a physical outlet for their pent up energy due to arousal and stress.

5. Manage the environment so it is as relaxing as possible.

6. Provide your pet with a safe place to take temporary refuge. If possible, allow your pet to stay in a quiet room such as a bedroom.

7. Close the windows, put the curtains down and play a relaxing music to neutralize the noise from the outside to help your pets feel secure.

8. Ensure your pet’s access to drinking water.  Make her/him pee or poo.

9. Do not yell or laugh at your pet when she/he  is cowering or shaking in fear. This is a natural response to a threat that they do not understand and cannot avoid. Joel Paredes

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