Choosing Safe Toys and Gifts This Holiday Season

Michelle Correll
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With the holiday shopping season in full swing, it is important that parents are aware of what they can do to make sure the gifts their children receive will not require a trip to the emergency room. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there were an estimated 254,200 toy-related injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms in 2015. Seventy-three percent of those injuries happened to children younger than age 15, and 35 percent happened to children younger than age 5. Parents can avoid injuries and ensure this holiday season is both enjoyable and safe by choosing safe toys and gifts.

Prevent Blindness America offers the following tips to help parents choose safe toys:

  • Read all warnings and instructions on the box.
  • Ask if the toy is right for the child’s ability and age.
  • Avoid purchasing toys with sharp or rigid points, spikes, rods, or dangerous edges.
  • Check the lenses and frames of children’s sunglasses; many can break and cause injuries.
  • Buy toys that will withstand impact and not break into dangerous shards.
  • Look for the letters “ASTM.” This designation means the product meets the national safety standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).
  • Avoid toys that shoot or include parts that fly off.
  • 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).
  • Don’t give toys with small parts to young children. Young kids tend to put things in their mouths, increasing the risk of choking. If any part of a toy can fit in a toilet paper roll, the toy is not appropriate for children under the age of 3.
  • Do not purchase toys with long strings or cords, especially for infants and very young children, as they can become wrapped around a child’s neck.
  • Always dispose of uninflated or broken balloons immediately. According to the CPSC, more children have suffocated from balloons than any other type of toy.

You can also check out CPSC’s Facts About Toy Injuries and Tips for Choosing Safe Toys Fact Sheet for additional resources to help make safe toys and gifts a priority this month.  

Happy Holidays and a safe and Happy New Year!

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