Safe Kids Kansas urges shoppers to be mindful when buying toys for children this holiday season.
Each year, about 200,000 toy-related injuries are treated in hospital emergency rooms nationwide.
“More than 3 billion toys and games are sold in the U.S. every year, and most of them are very safe,” said Cherie Sage, state director for Safe Kids Kansas. “Warning labels and manufacturers’ instructions tell you how to use the product safely. If the manufacturer sets a minimum age or other restrictions, there’s a reason.”
For example, Sage said, a label reading not appropriate for children under 3 could be present because the toy poses a choking hazard, not because it’s too difficult for a 2-year-old.
Safe Kids Kansas recommends the following safety measures:
• Buy age-appropriate toys. All toys are clearly marked if they have small parts. Do not buy toys with small parts for children younger than age 3 or allow them to play with those kinds of toys belonging to an older sibling. Also, avoid building sets with small magnets for children. Magnets are dangerous if swallowed.
• Identify dangerous small parts. To be sure of a toy’s size, use a small parts tester or the cardboard tube from a roll of toilet paper to identify choking hazards. Do not let small children play with anything that can fit into one of these cylinders.
• Keep batteries out of sight and out of reach. Lithium button batteries are coin-sized batteries that can easily be swallowed by children and can come from many devices, such as remote controls, singing greeting cards, watches, bathroom scales, and flameless candles. If a child swallows a battery, go to the emergency room immediately. Tell doctors and nurses that your child may have swallowed a battery. Do not let the child eat or drink until a chest X-ray can determine if a battery is present. Do not induce vomiting. Call the National Battery Ingestion Hotline at 202-625-3333 for additional treatment information.
• Buy proper safety gear. If you purchase a riding toy, such as a scooter, skateboard, in-line skates or bicycle, remember that the gift isn’t complete without a helmet and appropriate protective gear.
• Inspect toys to make sure they are in good repair. Check children’s play areas for missing or dislodged parts. Do not let young children play with toys that have straps, cords or strings longer than 7 inches, due to the risk of strangulation.
• Actively supervise children. Caregivers should actively supervise children playing with any toy that has small parts, moving parts, electrical or battery power, cords, wheels or any other potentially risky component. Simply being in the same room as your child is not necessarily supervising. Active supervision means keeping the child in sight and in reach and paying undivided attention.
• Practice proper storage. Teach children to put toys away after playing to help prevent falls and unsupervised play, and make sure toys intended for younger children are stored separately from those for older children.
• Check the recall list if you get secondhand toys. Visit www.recalls.gov to make sure the toy hasn’t been recalled for safety reasons.
• Sign up for recall emails. Visit www.cpsc.gov and then click on “Sign up for safety news and recall e-mails.”
• Report safety concerns. Contact the Consumer Product Safety Commission at 800-638-2772 or www.cpsc.gov. “If your child has a close call, the next child might not be so lucky,” Sage said.
SHOP SAFELY, TOO
Sage said it is estimated that more than 20,000 children, ages 5 and under, are injured by shopping carts each year. Falls are the most common cause of shopping cart-related injuries. Tip-overs and children colliding with the cart are other causes of injury.
To avoid injuries, Safe Kids recommends:
• Never leave your child unattended in a shopping cart and stay close to the cart at all times.
• If you are placing your child in the shopping cart seat, always use a harness or the safety belt provided to restrain your child.
• Never place your own infant carrier on top of a shopping cart.
• Do not let your child ride in the cart basket, under the basket, on the sides of the cart, or on the front of the cart.
• Use the shopping carts that have a wheeled child carrier that is permanently attached and made part of the shopping cart. Some of these models look like cars or benches attached to the shopping cart.