Toy and gift safety has improved over the past several decades, but still precautions are needed to protect both children and adults from injuries. December is Safe Toys and Gifts Month and the busiest season in the world for buying and giving gifts. With the right awareness on how to purchase safe and age-appropriate gifts, you can keep the smiles and excitement of the holidays going long after the wrapping paper cleanup.
Toys and gifts from your youth may bring back nostalgic memories, but not everything you once played with would be safe for kids today. In recent years, Good Housekeeping published a “20 Most Dangerous Toys of All Time” list featuring harmful and deadly products including Aqua Dots, the small beads you spritz with water to fuse together a creative design. The problem? The beads’ coating, when ingested, released GHB, the date rape drug. Three children who swallowed the toxic pieces went into comas. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recalled 4.2 million of the popular kits.
Those ‘70s acrylic Clackers balls that you would knock together? Gone. The novelty toy would often crack or shatter sending tiny shards flying. And the classic Easy-Bake Oven burned children whose fingers got stuck in the mini appliance. The newer Hasbro version uses a safer electric heating element.
Common Injuries from Toys
As a think Family Practice doctor who also worked eight years in the emergency room, I have seen my share of toy injuries to children. Choking hazards generally top the list. Often it’s an older child’s toy or game that a younger child gets into that causes a problem. Kids leave Legos and other small toys all around the house and little ones love to put everything in their mouth. Swallowing small magnets and button batteries, in particular, can cause airway obstructions and issues in the gastrointestinal tract. Ingesting any of the toy beads that swell in water can also completely obstruct the intestine.
Toys that start to flake paint or contain a toxic coating can lead to poisoning or chemical burns in the mouth and throughout the digestive system. Toys and games with sharp pieces or projectiles pose another danger to kids. Head injuries from crashing bicycles, skateboards, skates, scooters and other moving toys are another threat to the health of young ones.
Top Safety Hazard List
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every hour one child dies from an injury in our country. Every four seconds, a child is taken to an emergency department for an injury. Many of these accidents and fatalities are related to safety hazards with toys.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has compiled the following list of common injuries that can affect all adults and children:
- Allergic reaction
- Carbon monoxide
- Chemical burn
- Chemical ingestion
- Chemical explosion
- Electrical burn
- Electrical shock
- Electrical smoke
- Roll over
- Safety equipment malfunction
- Smoke inhalation
How to Prevent Toy Mishaps
- Always inspect toys before you purchase them. Avoid toys, dolls, games and other items for children with little parts, sharp edges or parts that can be easily pulled off.
- Buy age- and skill level-appropriate toys. When purchasing play and educational items for kids, be sure to consider their age currently not what you think they will someday grow into.
- Check product safety labels. Toys should have an ATSM (American Society for Testing and Materials) label that proves it meets safety standards.
- Stay with the reputable toy manufacturers. Companies that produce knockoffs of popular toys or are made of inferior materials should be suspect.
- Never give toys that can heat up or toys with cords and ropes. Only purchase nontoxic, crayons and paints. All electric toys should be UL certified.
- If you give a child a scooter, bicycle, skateboard or other kid-sized vehicle, give a helmet as part of the gift. Statistics from the National Safety Council and other sources note that annually in the United States about 100 children are killed and 254,000 are injured in bicycle accidents. Properly fitting protective helmets save lives.
- Actively supervise children at all times. Many child injuries and deaths occur when parents and adults are distracted or too busy to keep an eye on young ones.
- Stay current on first aid steps and take a basic life support class. If a mishap such as choking or drowning does occur, your quick response can truly save the life of your child or someone else’s child.
Resources That Can Help
Here at think, we consider child safety a vital priority. Our physicians and advanced practice providers are always ready to assist with questions about how to keep everyone in the family safe while still enjoying fun activities. If an injury does occur, we offer comprehensive, compassionate care for everything from x-rays and CAT scans to splints and medications to help your child heal fully. We can also connect you with community resources such as first aid classes to keep you updated on ways to assist your child in an urgent situation.
LEARN MORE ABOUT CHILD TOY SAFETY BY SPEAKING WITH YOUR THINK PHYSICIAN
Think Whole Person Healthcare makes it easy to receive both preventative care and treatment for a wide range of health conditions. From that cut that needs stitches to the persistent coughing and wheezing, our physicians, advanced practice providers and specialists are committed to you and your family’s lifelong health and well-being.
Our walk-in clinic treats anyone, even those who are not a think patient or do not have a primary care provider currently. To learn more about our comprehensive healthcare services, visit our Services page online and choose your own think medical professionals by visiting our Meet Your Doctor page.