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Toy Safety Tips for Holiday Gift Shoppers

12-06-2019

The holidays are here, and many of us are preparing to shop for toys for young ones. Some toys may seem harmless, but every year many children are injured by their favorite toys. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that more than 120,000 children are treated in hospital emergency rooms each year for toy-related injuries.

Nobody wants to spend the holidays in the hospital, especially if their injuries are 100% preventable. That’s why we’re asking all Frederick County shoppers to be diligent in inspecting children’s toys this holiday season. Whether you’re the gift giver or receiving for your young children, consider these tips to assure your little ones’ gifts are safe this holiday season.

  • Always buy age-appropriate toys. Check for age guidelines on toy labels and remember that no toys for children younger than 3 should have small parts that could break off and become a choking hazard. Toys for children under 8 should not have sharp points or edges either. For infants, avoid toys with strings or cords that are 7 inches or longer and could cause strangulation. When in doubt, think large. Make sure all toys and parts are larger than your child’s mouth to prevent choking.
  • Avoid toys that contain unsafe levels of lead. According to Consumer Reports, fidget spinners could pose a risk, as they contain certain unsafe lead levels. Avoid any toys with toxic materials that could cause poisoning. Check for labels that clearly say “nontoxic.”
  • Look for sturdy construction. Do the parts on that playset seem to be screwed on tight? Could those loose strings or ribbons pose a threat? If the eye on that teddy bear is too loose, for example, it could fall off and become a choking hazard for young ones. Keep this in mind as you’re shopping.
  • Check instructions for clarity. If they’re too difficult for you to understand or they’re unclear, they may not be suitable for a child.
  • Before play, always set ground rules—and supervise young children closely. Make sure children are using toys safely and adequately and encourage older children to keep dangerous or unsafe toys away from little ones.
  • Encourage kids to ride safely. According to a 2018 Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) report, riding toys, especially nonmotorized scooters, account for the most injuries and almost half of toy-related deaths. Keep children using riding toys like tricycles or push cars away from stairs, swimming pools, streets, hills, and traffic. Make sure they’re wearing helmets, gloves, knee pads, and other safety equipment that fits properly when using bicycles, skateboards, and roller skates, too.
  • Inspect old and new toys for wear and tear. Make repairs or discard as needed. If you’re giving hand-me-down toys to children, clean them with soap and water first to remove unwanted dirt and germs.
  • Teach children to put toys away after playing. This helps to prevent trips, falls, and accidents. Discard plastic wrappings and other trash after opening new toys too, as these can become dangerous playthings.
  • Look out for high-powered magnets. Hazardous magnets have a flux index (the measure of the force of attraction between the magnets) greater than 50 kG2 mm2. If two or more are accidentally swallowed and come together, they can be extremely dangerous and cause lifelong injuries or even death.
  • Keep an eye out for toy recalls. In 2018, CPSC issued 18 toy recalls. These ranged from defects that caused choking hazards to issues involving lead. Before crossing that gift off your young one’s wish list, check the agency’s list of recalls for clearance.
  • Be extra careful when buying crib toys. Strings, wires, and ribbons could cause strangulation while sleeping. Crib toys should be removed when your child can push up on their hands or knees. And remember, keep all toys out of your infant baby’s sleep area to help reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and other sleep-related infant deaths.

Frederick Health wishes you and your family a safe, happy holiday. In the unlikely event that an injury or accident happens, we’re here for you. Please keep Urgent Care and Emergency Services in mind, should you need help. Our emergency department is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you’re not sure where to go, learn more here.