Safe Toys and Gifts Awareness Month

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Are you still in the midst of holiday shopping? Many people are, making it an ideal time to call attention to an important safety issue. Prevent Blindness America─the nation’s oldest eye health and safety organization─has declared December as Safe Toys and Gifts Awareness Month. It’s a good reminder to make conscientious purchasing decisions based on what is best for each individual child.

“In the excitement of the season, sometimes we may forget that not every gift is
appropriate for every child,” said Hugh R. Parry, president and CEO of Prevent
Blindness America. “By taking a few easy safety precautions, we can keep the holidays
happy for everyone!”

Why is this topic so important? Well, not all toys are as safe as they seem. For example, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates in its most recent report that hospital emergency rooms treated 251,700 toy-related injuries in 2010 throughout the United States. And, of that number, 72% of injuries were to kids less than 15 years of age.

To ensure your family holiday celebration is both festive and safe, consider these tips from Prevent Blindness America when it comes to gift selection:

• Closely inspect all toys before you purchase them.
• Don’t give toys with small parts to young children, as they tend to put things in their mouths, increasing the risk of choking.
• Help loved ones and friends select appropriate gifts for your children by making recommendations as needed.
• Monitor toys that your child receives to make sure they are appropriate for your child’s age and developmental level.
• Beware of lead, which is harmful even in small amounts. Toys imported from other countries and older toys may contain high levels of lead in the paint or plastic.
• Gifts of sports equipment should always be accompanied by protective gear, such as a basketball along with eye goggles, or a face guard with a new batting helmet for baseball or softball.
• For younger children, avoid play sets with small magnets, and make sure batteries are secured within the toy. If magnets or batteries are ingested, serious injuries and/or death can occur.
• Your child’s toys should be durable, with no sharp edges, and should be able to withstand impact.
• Remember that any toy that is labeled “supervision required” must be used in the presence of an adult. Be sure to keep toys meant for older children away from younger ones.
• Avoid toys that shoot, or include parts that fly off.
• Always save the warranties and directions for every toy. If possible, include a gift receipt. Repair or discard damaged toys.

These tips can help, as can the following resources. Happy (safe) Holidays!

For toy hazard recalls, visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s page at:
www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/category/toy.html.
Check out Boston University’s listing of 2011′s worst toys:
http://www.bu.edu/today/2011/2011-10-worst-toys/.
Recalled toys containing lead or magnets that might be swallowed are listed at: www.cpsc.gov/recentrecalls.html.
For information on toys and childhood lead exposure, visit: www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/faq/toys.htm.
More information about lead poisoning and its symptoms can be found at:
www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002473.htm

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