With the holidays just ending, millions of children are happily playing with wished-for toys showered on them by parents and grandparents. But many toys, intended to bring hours of pleasure, may instead put the child at risk for injury or, in the worst cases, death.
Missouri health educator Christy Tapps told the Maryville Daily Forum that 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 injured while playing with a toy. It is important for parents to take a careful look at their children’s new toys to make sure they are safe and appropriate for the child’s age and abilities.
All toys made in or imported into the United States after 1995 must meet Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) guidelines. The agency monitors and regulates toys and consumer products in the United States. The CPSC urges parents and caregivers to consider its toy safety guidelines when choosing toys for their children.
Tapps warns parents not to assume that a toy currently available in stores or online is safe. A toy that is safe for a child of a particular age and ability can be dangerous if used inappropriately or if given to a child for whom the toy is not intended, the Maryville Daily Forum reports. The CPSC offers the following guidelines to parents and all toy givers:
- Read all warnings and instructions on the box.
- Consider 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-dropping and smashing-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, which present a choking hazard. If any part of the toy can fit into a toilet paper roll, the toy 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 take the time to teach their children the correct way to use a new toy or electronic device. And a toy that is safe when new, may become dangerous with wear and breakage, so parents and caregivers should regularly inspect toys for splinters, jagged edges, rust, breakage, loose or missing parts. For more information on toy safety, visit the Safe Kids Worldwide web site, www.safekids.org.