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Avoiding Injuries: Safe Toys and Gifts for Children

Keeping Playtime and Toys Safe for Children

Safe-toys-and-giftsChildren, adolescents and young adults have the highest rates of bicycle-related injuries, accounting for almost 60 percent of all bicycle-related injuries seen in U.S. emergency departments. The holiday season brings new bikes, trikes and many other toys to the household as a part of annual gift giving. The JFK Pediatric Emergency Department reminds parents, family members and other relatives to check every new toy they buy for possible hazards. The following suggestions can help you keep holiday gift giving and playtime a safe, fun experience.

Bicycle Helmets

A head injury can mean brain injury. That’s why it’s so important to wear a bicycle helmet. Bicycle helmets reduce the risk of head and brain injuries in the event of a crash.  Parents should insist all bicyclists, regardless of age, protect themselves by wearing properly fitted bicycle helmets every time they ride. (This should apply for skateboards, scooters and other related cycles.)

Select Toys With Care

  • Choose carefully. Look for good design and quality construction in the toys you buy. Watch out for toys that have sharp edges, small parts or sharp points. Avoid toys that produce extremely loud noises that can damage hearing and propelled objects that can injure eyes.
  • Buy toys that suit the child’s age, interest and abilities. Avoid toys that are too complex for young children. Many toys have a suggested age range to help you choose toys that are appealing as well as safe.
  • Be a label reader. Look for safety information such as “not recommended for children under 3 years of age” or “nontoxic” on toys likely to end up in little mouths, or “washable/hygienic materials” on stuffed toys and dolls.
  • Check with parents before you buy a child a toy that requires close supervision, such as electrically operated toys, shooting toys and games, and chemistry sets. Remember, too, that younger children may have access to toys intended for older children once the toy has been brought into the home.
  • Look for the UL (Underwriters Laboratories) seal on electrical toys. It indicates the electrical parts have been tested for safety.

Teach Proper Use of Toys

  • Check the instructions and explain to the child how to use the toy.
  • Always try to supervise children while they play. Learn to spot “an accident about to happen.”
  • Check toys regularly for broken parts and potential hazards. A dangerous toy should be repaired immediately or thrown away. Sharp or splintered edges on wooden toys should be sanded smooth. Use only nontoxic paint on toys or toy boxes. Check outdoor toys for rust and weak or sharp parts that could become hazardous.
  • Teach children to put their toys away so the toys do not get broken and no one trips and falls on them.
  • Toy boxes should be checked for safety. A toy chest should have a lightweight lid that can be opened easily from within. For extra safety, be sure there are ventilation holes. Watch for sharp edges that could cut and hinges that could pinch.
  • Attach rubber bumpers to the front corners of a toy chest so a slammed lid won’t catch little fingers.