For several years, Prevent Blindness America has declared December as Safe Toys and Gifts Awareness Month. For parents, grandparents and others shopping for children, there are many things to consider about the choices they make. Children have been seen in emergency rooms due to choking, eye injuries, or even poisoning. Most of this was caused by injuries due to poorly made items and misuse of toys.
In a 2010 report from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, it was estimated that hospital emergency rooms treated 251,700 toy-related injuries throughout the U.S. Of that number, 72 percent of injuries were to those less than 15 years of age. They also found that 46 percent of the 251,700 ER-treated injuries occurred to the head and face area. Lacerations, abrasions, and contusions made up most of the injuries.
There are two things to keep in mind when shopping for toys:
(1) Keep the age of the child in mind when purchasing gifts and consider their maturity level. Read the age recommendations and any warnings on the packaging, and abide by them.
(2) Select toys that are well constructed and meet the American society for testing and Materials’ (ASTM) approval. You will see a label on the package if the item meets these standards.
Prevent Blindness asks you to make these recommendations to family members and friends about gifts that you feel are appropriate for your child, and be diligent about inspecting the gifts before the child plays with them. This may seem a little heartless at Christmas, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Choose toys that are a developmental tool as well as a recreational activity for children, not to cause harm. Children should be supervised at all times, and instructed on the proper use of the toy. Labels are the best way to decide whether a toy or other item is right for a child. Most new toys have appropriate age labels and these should be followed. Stuffed items should be machine washable, fabric items should be non-flammable and/or flame resistant, and art supplies should read non-toxic. Crayons and paints should say ASTM D-4236 on the package, ( evaluated by the American Society for Testing and Materials). Outdoor recreational items such as skateboards or baseballs should be accompanied by the appropriate safety gear, such as helmets and gloves. BB Guns should be given to only those of the proper age and maturity to handle them safely, and comfortable safety goggles should be included.
Keep these tips in mind throughout the year, as children are given toys more often than just at Christmas. It’s just a good time to emphasize that we want everyone to have a safe and happy holiday season!