Opening presents is sure to bring a smile to any child’s face. But safety trumps child appeal when picking out toys, cautions Cara Fast, manager of the Riley Safety Store at Indiana University Health.
“Toys can be a lot more dangerous than parents think,” said Fast. “Young children can choke on toys with small parts and fall from even non-motorized scooters or riding toys.”
- Long strings or cords
- Latex balloons
- Projectile parts
- Electrical cords
- Batteries or magnets that can be removed easily.
According to the Toy Industry Association, toys generated nearly $21 billion in sales in 2010. Many of those purchases came during the Christmas season. But no matter when they are purchased, toys can be hazardous. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that, during that same year, 181,500 children under the age of 15 were treated in emergency rooms for toy-related injuries. There were also 17 toy-related deaths.
“This time of year, people love to buy toys for the kids to open up,” explains Dr. Pamela McCullough, a pediatric nurse practitioner and the director of the nursing program at Stratford University’s Woodbridge campus. “But placing an emphasis on safety has to be a top priority. It is important for anyone purchasing toys to take the time to minimize risks.”
Here are tips from McCullough for selecting safe toys:
- Read the label. Look for “nontoxic” on art supplies. Children’s jewelry should be marked “ASTM F2923″ to show it meets guidelines set by the ASTM International (formerly American Society for Testing and Materials). All electronics should carry the “UL” (Underwriters Laboratories) symbol.
- Get the gear. Purchasing a new skateboard, bike or other device with wheels? Always buy the related safety gear (helmets, knee pads, goggles, etc).
- Thrift with care. Thoroughly inspect used and bargain items for broken parts and do a quick online search for information about age recommendations and CPSC Toy Hazard Recalls.
“The last thing anyone wants is to give a child something that ends up sending them to the emergency room—or worse,” concludes Dr. McCullough. “While there is no sure-fire way to avoid injuries, following these safety tips will help minimize the risks, and make getting new toys a better experience for everyone.”