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December is Safe Toys & Gifts Month

 

December is Safe Toys and Gifts Month

           

            As the holiday season marches ahead, so does toy shopping for the special children in our lives. There are thousands of toys to choose from and selecting the right one can be a challenge, especially as new toys appear on the shelves every year. Toys are intended to be fun and enjoyable for children, but they can pose serious health risks if they are not properly made and designed.

            According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 254,200 toy-related injuries treated in U.S.; 72% were to children younger than 15 years of age. There were 76 children's products and nearly 67 million units recalled in 2016, Ikea, which recalled chests and dressers and the McDonald's recall of promotional Step-iT activity wristbands, accounted for about 29 million units each.

            When it comes to toys and gifts, the excitement and desire to get your children their favorite toys may cause shoppers to forget about safety factors associated with them. Before you make these purchases, it is critical to remember to consider the safety and age range of the toys.

            This holiday season (and beyond), please consider the following guidelines for choosing safe toys for all ages:

  • Inspect all toys before purchasing. Avoid those that shoot or include parts that fly off. The toy should have no sharp edges or points and should be sturdy enough to withstand impact without breaking, being crushed, or being pulled apart easily.
  • Choose toys that appeal to different senses such as sound, movement, and texture; consider interactive toys to allow the child to play with others; and think about the size of the toy and the position a child would need to be in to play with it.
  • Be diligent about inspecting toys your child has received. Check them for age, skill level, and developmental appropriateness before allowing them to be played with.
  • Look for labels that assure you the toys have passed a safety inspection – “ATSM” means the toy has met the American Society for Testing and Materials standards.
  • Gifts of sports equipment should always be accompanied by protective gear (give a helmet with the skateboard)
  • Keep kids safe from lead in toys by:  Educating yourself about lead exposure from toys, symptoms of lead poisoning, and what kinds of toys have been recalled; being aware that old toys may be more likely to contain lead in the paint; having your children wash their hands frequently and calling your doctor if you suspect your child has been exposed to lead. Consult the last two websites listed below for more information.
  • Do NOT give toys with small parts (including magnets and “button” batteries which can cause serious injury or death if ingested) to young children as they tend to put things in their mouths, increasing the risk of choking. If the piece can fit inside a toilet paper roll, it is not appropriate for kids under age three.
  • Do NOT give toys with ropes and cords or heating elements
  • Do NOT give crayons and markers unless they are labeled “nontoxic
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            Once the gifts are opened, discard plastic wrapping or other toy packaging before the wrapping and packaging become dangerous play things and finally battery charging should be supervised by adults. Chargers and adapters can pose thermal burn hazards to young children. Pay attention to instructions and warnings on battery chargers. Some chargers lack any mechanism to prevent overcharging.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)  oversees the safety of toys and many other consumer products, and requires toy manufacturers to meet stringent safety standards. For more information about purchasing safe toys and gifts, call the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Hot Line at (800) 638-2772.

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