The time for holiday gift buying is here again. With the hustle and bustle of the holidays and last minute holiday shopping, it’s often hard to take the time to check that each gift for the children on our list is safe.
Each year, more than 121,000 children aged 14 and under are treated in hospitals for injuries from toys. With this in mind, how do we know what is safe for our loved little ones? The Nebraska Health and Human Service SAFE KIDS Coalition suggests these toy safety tips for a safe holiday season:
*Buy toys that are right for the child’s age. Read safety labeling and age recommendations on toy packages.
• Choose toys that fit the child’s skill level and interest.
• Stay away from toys with small removable parts. The small parts that children under the age of three could choke on.
• Check toys for sharp edges or points. Children may unintentionally cut themselves or someone else.
*Check toys that might cause a burn such as electrical toys or cap guns. Toys with parts that heat up are best for children over eight years old.
*Propelled toys can cause cuts and eye injuries.
*Toys that make loud noises such as toy guns and high-volume portable cassette recorders can permanently harm hearing.
*Make sure that toys with strings, straps, or cords are no longer than seven inches. Long strings and cords can wrap around a child’s neck and unintentionally strangle him or her.
*Give a helmet and other safety gear as part of the gift if giving a bicycle, tricycle, scooter, roller blades, or skateboard. Make sure the helmet meets or is better than new federal safety standards.
Some extra tips are looking for quality of the toy. Look for safety labels such as: “Flame retardant/Flame resistant” on fabric products and “Washable/hygienic materials” on stuffed toys and dolls. The plastic film around unopened gifts can cause choking. Don’t forget to gather all plastic wrappings and throw them away before the child gets to play with the toy.
Take the time to review any directions about the toy with your child. Make sure that your child knows how to use the toy. After playtime is done, teach the child to put their toys away and off the floor to keep from tripping and falling. Even toy chests can be dangerous and should be checked for safety issues too. Check that the lid can stay open at any angle to keep from falling on a child’s head. Also, check that there are holes in the chest to let in fresh air if a child falls inside. Look for sharp edges or hinges that could cut or pinch little fingers.
After the holidays are over and the child continues to play with the gifts, be sure to check all toys often for breakage and possible dangers. A broken toy can become a danger and should be thrown away or repaired right away. Wooden toys could have edges that might have become sharp or may have worn down to splinters. Look over all outdoor toys often for rust or weak parts that could become dangerous.
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*Safe Kids has product recalls specific to children and sends twice-monthly e-mail alerts for recent recalls. Sign-up for the latest recall information at: http://www.safekids.org/product-recalls