During the holiday season, parents and relatives purchase millions of toys to fulfill their children’s wishes. But many toys, instead of bringing pleasure to the recipient can put the child at risk for injury or, in the worst cases, death.
According to Missouri health educator Christy Tapps, the biggest health threat to children over age 1 is accidental injury. Tapps says thousands of children end up in emergency rooms each year after being hurt while playing with a toy, according to the Maryville Daily Forum. Parents should take a careful look at their children’s new toys to make sure they are safe.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) monitors and regulates toys in the United States. All toys made in or imported into the U.S. after 1995 must meet agency guidelines. The CPSC urges parents and caregivers to become familiar with toy safety guidelines and make sure that their children’s new holiday toys are safe and appropriate for them.
Tapps warns that parents should not simply assume that any toy currently available in stores or online is safe. A toy that’s safe for a child of a particular age and ability can be dangerous for the child when used inappropriately or when given to a child for whom the toy is not intended, the Maryville Daily Forum reports.
Among its guidelines for choosing safe and appropriate toys, the CPSC offers the following guidelines to parents:
- Read all warnings and instructions on the box.
- Ask whether the toy is right for the child’s age and ability level.
- Avoid toys with sharp points, spikes, rods, and dangerous edges.
- Buy toys that will withstand impacts and not break into dangerous shards.
- Look for the letters ASTM, which means the toy meets standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials.
- Avoid toys that shoot or have parts that fly off.
- Do not give young children toys with small parts, because these present a choking hazard. If any part of the toy can fit into a toilet paper roll, the product is inappropriate for a child under age 3.
- Avoid toys with strings or cords, especially for infants and toddlers.
- Young children should be given battery-operated toys only if the batteries are in a compartment secured by screws that a child cannot pry open.
Tapps says parents should teach their children the correct way to use new toys and electronic devices. Even if a toy is safe when new, breakage and wear can make the toy dangerous. Parents should regularly inspect toys for splinters, jagged edges, rust, breakage, or missing parts.
Parents can find more information on toy safety at the Safe Kids Worldwide web site, www.safekids.org.