Toy Safety for Kids during the Holidays

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Tis’ the season for giving, but for too many children, what they receive during the holidays can be harmful. According to the most recent statistics, some 188,400 children under the age of 15 suffered toy-related injuries. More than a dozen children died due to those injuries, mostly from asphyxia, which is a severe lack of oxygen to the body. Today is Black Friday –the start of a holiday shopping frenzy which will last over the next few weeks.

Parents need to be on guard for potential toy hazards, especially around this time of year. Here are a few steps and recommendations parents should consider when purchasing toys to keep their child safe.

  • Toys must be safe
    • Avoid toys with many parts that potentially become choking hazards especially for young children. A parent can turn their back for a split second and that child can swallow a small piece and choke. Parents just need to take their time when shopping and make sure what they are buying is age appropriate.
      • This includes balloons or toys that have string, ribbon or straps longer than 7” that could cause strangulation.
      • If a small toy or parts of toys that break off can fit entirely into a toilet paper tube, then it is a potential choking hazard.
      • Keep magnetic toys and “button” batteries away from children from young children. The acid can cause fatal internal injuries. If a child swallows a battery, seek immediate medical attention.
    • Not only read the recommended age label on packaging, but always open what is purchased and inspect the toy. This practice is extremely important if someone else gives your child a gift.
      • Sometimes what we think we are buying is not is not exactly what’s in the box. Inspecting it is the best way to determine if the toy is safe for your child.
    • Stay away from certain types of chemicals such as phthalates, lead or heavy metal which can affect organ and system in the human body, especially the central nervous system.
      • Opt for toys labeled "phthalate-free or cloth or unpainted wooden toys instead.
      • Read the labels of play cosmetics and avoid products with xylene or toluene or phthalates.
      • To screen a piece of jewelry for lead, use a home lead tester available at the hardware store. (This is a screening method, and should not be relied upon as a definitive test.)
  • Be sure the toy is age appropriate.
    • Parents with multiple children of all ages should make sure toys for older children are not easily accessible to the younger children.
    • There can be large age gaps in families, so what is bought for an older child can be extremely harmful to a younger sibling.
    • Keeping an eye on the younger children and making sure toys are separated is the best way to keep everyone safe during the holiday.

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