Yesterday on The PediaBlog, we examined statistics highlighting toy-related injuries and deaths in children in the United States in 2014. This year, make sure the gifts your children receive this holiday don’t pose hidden or unsuspecting hazards. Here are few tips to keep them safe, courtesy of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and Safe Kids Worldwide:
- Choose age appropriate toys to suit the abilities, skills, and interest level of the intended child. There should be an age label on the toy’s package.
- Read instructions and warning labels carefully before allowing a child to play with a new toy.
- Beware of choking and ingestion hazards. Deflated or broken balloons, small parts and game pieces, small balls, and toys with button batteries should be avoided as they are choking hazards and can cause serious, even fatal conditions if swallowed. Button batteries can also be found in musical greeting cards, remote controls, hearing aids, and other small electronics. Building and play sets with small magnets, marketed for either children or adults, should be kept far away from small children.
- Helmets and safety gear should be fitted and worn properly at all times for ride-on toys. Falls from ride-on toys such as wagons, bicycles, scooters, skateboards, and in-line skates are common and can cause serious, sometimes fatal injuries. Riding toy vs. motor vehicle accidents can be especially severe so care should be taken to avoid riding on streets.
- To prevent both burns and electrical shocks, do not give small children under 10 a toy that plugs into an electrical outlet. Battery-operated toys are better, but beware of very small batteries, especially button batteries.
- Keep older kids’ toys away from young children. Use a toy box with no lid or a lightweight, non-locking lid to store toys once play time is over. Make sure there are no holes or hinges on toy boxes that could catch and trap little fingers.
W.A.T.C.H. (World Against Toys Causing Harm) reveals its “10 Worst Toys for the 2015 Holiday Season” list, which includes “Kid Connection Doctor Play Set” for all those young wannabe pediatricians:
W.A.T.C.H. OUT! This multi-colored play set, sold for oral-age children, includes “everything you need to play doctor!” Among the medical devices included is a thin plastic “tongue depressor” measuring approximately 4¾ inches in length. Small children are effectively invited to introduce this implement into their mouths, presenting the potential to occlude the airway.
And please don’t ever allow your kids to play with realistic toy weapons like the “Foam Dart Gun.” These toys are idiotic, pointless, and physically and psychologically dangerous:
W.A.T.C.H. OUT. In today’s world, there is no excuse for outfitting children with realistic toy weapons designed to produce potentially dangerous and unnecessary thrills. Existing regulations addressing the hazards associated with such “toys” are inadequate. Detailed replicas have resulted in a number of deaths through the years and should never be sold as toys.