More than 3 billion toys and games are sold annually in the United States. Although they are meant to provide joy and entertainment, toys are often linked to injuries. Children ages 4 and under are at especially high risk. While choking accounts for many of these deaths and injuries, children can also suffer from falls, strangulation, burns, drowning and poisoning while playing with toys.
Although the majority of toys are safe, they can become dangerous if misused or used by children who are too young for them. Appropriate selection and proper use of toys, combined with parental supervision, can greatly reduce the incidence and severity of such injuries.
1. Use Mylar balloons instead of latex balloons. Children under age 8 can choke or suffocate on un-inflated or broken balloons. If you must use latex balloons, store them out of reach of children, do not allow children to inflate them, and deflate and discard balloons and balloon pieces after use.
2. When selecting toys, consider the child’s age, interests and skill level; look for quality design and construction; and follow age and safety recommendations on labels.
3. Ensure that toys are used in a safe environment. Riding toys should not be used near stairs, traffic or swimming pools.
4. Always supervise children at play. Play is even more valuable when adults become involved and interact with children rather than supervising from a distance.
5. Teach children to put toys away safely after playing. Ensure that toys intended for younger children are stored separately from those for older children.
6. Consider purchasing a small parts tester to determine whether small toys may present a choking hazard to children especially under age 3. A toilet paper tube can also be used as a guideline. If the toy fits in the tube, it is a choking hazard.
7. Inspect old and new toys regularly for damage and potential hazards. Make any necessary repairs immediately or discard damaged toys.
8. Check the website of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (www.cpsc.gov) regularly to obtain information on recent toy recalls. Mail the warranty and product registration forms for new toy purchases to ensure that you will be notified of any recalls.
9. Young children should never play with toys with strings, straps or cords longer than 7 inches, which can unintentionally strangle them.
10. Electrical toys are a potential burn hazard. Children under age 8 should not use toys with electrical plugs or batteries. Another concern when shopping for toys this holiday season is the presence of magnets in toys. There have been an alarming number of recalls on toys that contain magnets in recent years. Two magnets that are swallowed have the potential to attach to each other and can cause serious problems. The magnets may attract to each other inside the intestines and cause perforations and or blockages, which can be fatal if not treated immediately. Physical symptoms may not appear for several days after ingestion of a magnet or magnets. Some symptoms may include vomiting, diarrhea and pain. Ingested magnets are only visible on an x-ray.
For more information, visit CPSC.gov or contact Safe Kids Grand Forks at firstname.lastname@example.org. Altru Health System is proud to serve as the lead agency for Safe Kids Grand Forks.
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