With the holidays quickly approaching, it’s a great time to think about fun as well as safety and make sure toys are appropriate for a child’s age and maturity level. Approximately 50 percent of all toy purchases in the United States occur between the Friday after Thanksgiving and Christmas per the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). While parents are on a mad-dash to scoop up the hottest toys, safety advocates advise that safety should be at the top of their wish lists.
260,000 children are treated annually in emergency rooms for toy-related injuries, and more than a third of toy-related injuries are in children ages 4 and under.
If secondhand toys are purchased, or received from friends or relatives, visit www.cpsc.gov and make sure the toy hasn’t been recalled for safety reasons. Used toys should also be in good condition with all original parts and packaging, if possible. If a new toy comes with a product registration card, it is helpful for parents to mail it in so the manufacturer can contact you if the item is ever recalled.
In addition, we recommend the following toy safety tips:
1. Consider your child’s age when purchasing a toy or game. It’s worth a second to read the instructions and warning labels to make sure it’s just right for your child.
2. Keep a special eye on small game pieces that may be a choking hazard for young children. While these kinds of games are great for older kids, they can pose a potential danger for younger, curious siblings.
3. After play time is over, use a bin or container to store toys for next time. Make sure there are no holes or hinges that could catch little fingers.
4. Keep button battery-controlled devices out of sight and reach of children. These include remote controls, singing greeting cards, digital scales, watches, hearing aids, thermometers, children’s toys, calculators, key fobs, tea light candles, flashing holiday jewelry or decorations.
5. Stay informed about harmful products in the marketplace. Safe Kids will make it easy for you by sending an e-mail alert twice a month. Parents can sign up at safekids.org/product-recalls.
6. Kids need constant supervision around all toys. Buckyballs, the tiny high-strength magnets sold as an adult stress toy, are back on the market after an appellate court overturned the CPSC decision to ban them. Recently, a two-year-old in Colorado gained access and swallowed 28 magnets. She required two surgeries because they magnetized inside and were pinching [her] bowel. Starting in 2012, Safe Kids Worldwide worked with partners to support the CPSC decision to ban them and were successful for three years.
For more information on safety initiatives at Children’s, visit www.chp.edu/injury-prevention.