Toys should surprise, delight and educate children, not hurt them. But despite great strides made in recent years by government regulators and consumer advocates to rid the nation of dangerous toys, they are still out there. And kids are still suffering: an average of 250,000 toy-related injuries each year since 2008 were serious enough to require a visit to the emergency room. Bottom line: parents, family and caregivers must remain vigilant.
Here are tips and resources you can use to prevent toy injuries and keep the magic of the holidays alive throughout the year:
1) Choking is the leading cause of toy-related deaths.
- Bigger is better – if a toy or part of a toy can pass through a common toilet paper tube, it is unsafe for a child under age 3 or any child who still puts things in his or her mouth.
- Read and heed warning labels – toys with small parts intended for children between ages 3 and 6 are required by law to include an explicit choking hazard warning.
- Balloons are prohibited – young children should never play with balloons, broken pieces of balloons or small balls as they can completely block a child’s airway. Balls for children under 6 must be more than 1.75 inches in diameter.
2) Magnets can look like candy
Small, powerful magnets can easily fall out of toys and look like shiny candy. Swallow more than one and the magnets attach inside the body, causing life-threatening complications.
3) Batteries can be fatal.
Keep watch or “button” batteries away from children. If swallowed, the battery acid can cause fatal internal injuries.
4) Toxic chemicals can still be found in toys.
Dangerous levels of lead and other toxic chemicals can still be found in older toys and those not made in the United States. Steer clear of toys made of PVC plastic, soft vinyl lunch boxes and bibs, and children’s costume jewelry – especially jewelry and other toys that can be swallowed.
5) If it’s too loud for you, it’s too loud for them.
Children’s ears are very sensitive. Take the batteries out of loud toys or cover the speakers with tape to muffle loud sounds.
6) Parental supervision, awareness still best defense.
Follow label age and safety information, and be particularly alert to toddlers playing with toys purchased for older siblings. Also keep in mind that even the right toy in the wrong place can be trouble. Avoid play near traffic areas, pools or ponds for ride-on toys, and consider blocking off kitchens and bathrooms.
Read more about Dangerous Toys of 2013.
Read more blog posts about Dangerous Toys
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