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Safe Toy Tips for the Holidays
As parents tackle the last leg of shopping and gift-buying this holiday season, we're offering some easy suggestions to make sure the toys your children receive bring joy and fun — not visits to the emergency room.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that each year, toy-related injuries lead to about 250,000 hospital emergency room visits across the United States.
For National Safe Toys and Gifts Awareness Month in December, here are some tips to avoid choking hazards, eye injuries, hearing damage, cuts, and other dangers:
Make recommendations to family members and friends about age-appropriate gifts for your child.
Be diligent about inspecting gifts before allowing your child to play with them.
For younger children, avoid play sets with small magnets and make sure batteries are secured within the toy. If magnets or batteries are ingested, serious injuries and/or death can occur.
Always save the warranties and directions for every toy. If possible, include a gift receipt. Repair or throw away damaged toys.
Avoid toys that shoot or include parts that fly off.
Don’t give toys with small parts to young children, to avoid choking. If the part of a toy can fit in a toilet paper roll, the toy is not appropriate for children under the age of 3.
Steer clear of older toys, even hand-me-downs from friends and family. They may not meet current safety standards and may be so worn from play that they can break and become hazardous.
Make sure a toy isn't too loud for your child. The noise of some rattles, squeak toys, and musical or electronic toys can be as loud as a car horn — even louder if a child holds it directly to the ears — and can contribute to hearing damage.
Always read labels to make sure a toy is appropriate for a child's age.
Check toys regularly to make sure that they aren't broken or unusable (toys shouldn't have splinters, rust, or exposed removable parts)
Throw away broken toys or repair them right away.
Store outdoor toys when they're not in use so that they are not exposed to rain or snow.
Make sure toys for a baby or toddler don’t have sharp ends or small parts, small ends that can extend into the back of the mouth, strings longer than 7 inches, or parts that could pinch small fingers
Toy guns should be brightly colored so they cannot be mistaken for real weapons, and kids should be taught to never point darts, arrows, or guns at anyone.
Check the CPSC website (
) for the latest information about toy recalls. Call their hotline at 1-800-638-CPSC to report a toy you think is unsafe. If you have any doubt about a toy's safety, err on the side of caution and do not allow your child to play with it.
What are the most dangerous toys for kids’ eyes?
Check out this list
from Prevent Blindness America—which toy ranks highest? Hint—there’s a good reason Ralphie in “A Christmas Story” was warned, “You’ll shoot your eye out!”
Sources: Prevent Blindness America, KidsHealth.org
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