December is National Safe Toys and Gifts Month.
Prevent Blindness America has declared December as National Safe Toys and Gifts Awareness Month. The group wants everyone to be aware that the toys they give are age appropriate and safe.
Toys are an important part of every child’s development, but each year many children are treated in hospital emergency departments for toy-related injuries.
Common toy-related injuries are lacerations, contusions, abrasions, fractures, sprains, internal injuries, and eye injuries. Children under the age of three are at greater risk for choking on toys because of their tendency to put everything in their mouth. In addition, the upper airways of children under three are smaller than old
Toy Cause Eye Injuries
Riding toys cause the majority of injuries among children 14 and older. About half of all toy-related injuries occur to the head, face, or eyes.
BB guns, paintball, pellet guns, and missile firing toys top the danger list for eye injuries. Laser pointers can cause damage to the cornea, lens or retina, depending on the wavelength of light. The damage can be delayed and show up years later. Never allow children to point a laser into their eyes or the eyes of anyone else.
Light sabers, wands and swords can have sharp edges and cause eye trauma. Dart guns, paintball guns, BB guns and airsoft rifles launch objects that can cause lacerations, increased eye pressure, cataracts and vision loss.
Balloons can choke or suffocate. Keep deflated balloons away from children younger than 8 years old.
If a magnet is swallowed it can cause a lot of damage to a child’s GI tract and can twist intestines, cause bowel ulcerations, perforations, blood poisoning, and even death. It is more life-threatening if a child swallows more than one magnet.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) closely monitors and regulates toys. Any toys made in—or imported into—the United States after 1995 must follow CPSC standards. The CPSC provides free safety alerts, guides, and other material and you can contact them to report an unsafe toy.
Safety Tips for Safe Toys
Here are some general safety guidelines to keep in mind when shopping for toys:
- Toys made of fabric should be labeled as flame resistant or flame retardant.
- Stuffed toys should be washable.
- Painted toys must use lead-free paint.
- Art materials should say nontoxic.
- Make sure a toy isn’t too loud. The noise of some toys can be as loud as a car horn and even louder if the child holds it directly to the ears, causing hearing damage.
- Consider your child’s age, temperament, habits and behavior whenever you buy a new toy. The age levels for toys are determined by safety factors, not intelligence or maturity.
- Crayons and paints should say ASTM D-4236 on the package, which means that they’ve been evaluated by the American Society for Testing and Materials.
You can view the World Against Toys Causing Harm, Inc. (W.A.T.C.H.) website and read their 2021 “10 Worst Toys” list. The website also has a list of recalls, and articles about toy safety.