Remember the days of breaking out the Sears catalog to peruse all the toys while making that list for Santa? Needless to say, safety was rarely a concern when dreaming of what would arrive under the tree. Irwin Mainway’s Bag O’ Glass might have even looked attractive to some kids.
But, for most parents safety is a major concern when choosing toys for children. To ensure that a child will be safe after opening those holiday gifts, the DuPage County Health Department and Consumer Product Safety Commission are offering tips for parents to consider before buying and before toys are used.
Before purchasing a toy the DuPage County Health Department suggests:
- Read all warnings and instructions on the box.
- Ask yourself if the toy is right for your child's ability and age.
- Avoid purchasing toys with sharp or rigid points, spikes, rods, or dangerous edges.
- Check the lenses and frames of children's sunglasses; many can break and cause injuries.
- Buy toys that will withstand impact and not break into dangerous shards.
- Look for the letters "ASTM." This means the product meets the national safety standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).
- Avoid toys that shoot or include parts that fly off. Remember that BB guns are NOT toys.
Before allowing children to play with toys:
- Inspect toys for safe, sturdy construction.
- Explain how to use the toy.
- Fix or throw away broken toys.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission suggests parents keep the following three things in mind for child safety:
- Which Toy for Which Child - Always choose age appropriate toys.
- Gear Up for Safety - Include safety gear whenever shopping for sports-related gifts or ride-on toys, including bicycles, skates, and scooters.
- Location, Location, Location - Be aware of your child's surroundings during play. Young children should avoid playing with ride-on toys near automobile traffic, pools or ponds. They also should avoid playing in indoor areas associated with hazards such as kitchens and bathrooms and in rooms with corded window blinds.
In addition, the commission offers some additional safety steps that consumers can take while shopping this holiday season:
- Scooters and other Riding Toys - Riding toys, skateboards, and in-line skates go fast, and falls could be deadly. Helmets and safety gear should be worn properly at all times and be sized to fit.
- Small Balls and other Toys with Small Parts - For children younger than age three, avoid toys with small parts, which can cause choking.
- Balloons - Children can choke or suffocate on deflated or broken balloons. Keep deflated balloons away from children younger than eight years old. Discard broken balloons at once.
- Magnets - For children under age six, avoid building or play sets with small magnets. If magnets or pieces with magnets are swallowed, serious injuries and/or death can occur.
Once the gifts are open:
- Immediately discard plastic wrappings or other packaging on toys before they become dangerous play things.
- Keep toys appropriate for older children away from younger siblings.
- Charging batteries should be supervised by adults. Chargers and adapters can pose thermal burn hazards to young children. Pay attention to instructions and warnings on battery chargers. Some chargers lack any mechanism to prevent overcharging.