The holidays are about way more than exchanging gifts, however presents are inevitably given and received. Prevent Blindness America has declared December as Safe Toys and Gifts Awareness Month. The group encourages everyone to consider if the toys they wish to give suits the age and individual skills and abilities of the individual child who will receive it, especially for infants and children under 3-years-old.
Though you may assume all products available for purchase at stores are safe for everyone, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in 2010 there were an estimated 251,700 toy-related injuries treated at U.S. hospital emergency rooms, 72 percent of which were for people less than 15-years-old.
This holiday season (and beyond), Prevent Blindness America encourages consumers to please consider the following guidelines for choosing safe toys for all ages:
- Inspect all toys before purchasing. Avoid ones that shoot or include parts that fly off. The toy should have no sharp edges or points and should be sturdy enough to withstand impact without breaking, being crushed or being pulled apart easily.
- When purchasing toys for children with special needs try to: Choose toys that may appeal to different senses such as sound, movement and texture; Consider interactive toys to allow the child to play with others; and think about the size of the toy and the position a child would need to be in to play with it. Consult the “AblePlay” website at http://www.ableplay.org/ for more information.
- Be diligent about inspecting toys your child has received. Check them for age, skill level and developmental appropriateness.
- Look for labels that assure you the toys have passed a safety inspection – “ATSM” means the toy has met the American Society for Testing and Materials standards.
- Sports equipment gifts should always be accompanied by protective gear. For example: give a helmet and elbow and knee pads with the skateboard.
- Keep kids safe from lead in toys by: Educate yourself about lead exposure from toys, symptoms of lead poisoning and what kinds of toys have been recalled; Be aware of old toys, which may be more likely to contain lead in the paint; Call your doctor if you suspect your child has been exposed to lead.
- Do not give toys with small parts (including magnets and “button” batteries which can cause serious injury or death if ingested) to young children as they tend to put things in their mouths, which increases their risk of choking. If the piece can fit inside a toilet paper roll, it is not appropriate for kids under age three.
- Do not give toys with ropes and cords or heating elements
- Do not give crayons and markers unless they are labeled “nontoxic”.
For more information:
- Call Prevent Blindness America at (800)331-2020 or go to their website: www.preventblindness.org/children/safetoys.html