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If there are lots of kids in your family, it probably seems like you’re always on the hunt for the newest and best toys. Whether it’s a birthday, family gathering, or the holidays, you may always be on the lookout for cool toys to give to them. But remember this: December is safe toys and gifts month. You want your kids to play, but make sure they’re playing it safe.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s most recent toy report, there were more than 254,000 toy-related injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments in 2015. Everything from scooters to balloons cause emergencies and what’s even scarier is that nearly 70 percent of the incidents involved kids 12 and younger.
The good news is almost all of them are treated and sent back home, but it does make you wonder if all of the kids in the report were playing with safe toys. When you’re buying toys for your children you have to be careful. Some toys are much more dangerous than others, so here is a list of things parents should consider when shopping for during safe toys and gifts month.
Choking is one of the leading causes of toy-related fatalities. It’s become such a concern that there are now laws in place banning small parts in toys intended for children under three. It's also one of the reasons safe toys and gifts month began.
A small part is any object that fits completely into a specially designed test cylinder 2.25 inches long by 1.25 inches wide. That’s about the same size of the throat of a three-year-old child. Small part examples include:
Despite the laws, you may have some toys you used to play with as a kid that you plan to pass on. Take a good look at that old “He-Man” doll before handing it down. Make sure you’re giving your child a safe toy.
When you’re buying new toys for kids eight years old and younger, they should not have sharp glass and metal edges. This goes for those hand-me-downs, too. Safe toys and gifts month is also a good reminder to get rid of older toys that have been used a lot. They may break and expose cutting edges.
Broken toys may also have dangerous points or prongs. Stuffed toys may have wires that can cut or stab your child if they are exposed. There are also regulations prohibiting sharp points in new toys and other articles intended for kids under eight.
Kids have a tendency to put anything and everything in their mouths. If a child swallows more than one magnet, the magnets can activate and actually connect between various parts of the digestive system. They are not safe toys and should be kept from children under 14.
Warning labels are your first line of defense when shopping for safe toys. It will tell you how safe the toy is without having to take it out of the box.
Each warning label should contain a three-part message:
Safe toys and gifts month is designed to raise awareness, not just in December, but all year long. Use this information to determine if you're buying a safe toy for your child. You can also double-check “Safe Kids Worldwide” updated list of toy recalls.
Another thing you can do to make sure you’re getting a safe toy for your child is to consider these three things before you buy:
It could be the coolest toy on the block, but if it’s not age-appropriate, it may not be a safe toy for your child.
It’s also important that you remain vigilant and keep an eye on your kids while they’re playing. This way, if something does break, or a spring is exposed, you’ll be right there to replace the dangerous toy with a safe one.
All of that shopping may wear you out, so if you'd like to feel more rested download our free guide: “Simple Tips to Wind Down Before Bed."