The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports toy-related injuries led to 206,400 emergency room visits in 2021. Most of them involved children 12 and younger.
To enjoy this year’s holiday gifts worry-free, educate yourself about the dangers of toys and how to keep your kids safe.
Common toy-related injuries
According to The Emergency Center, an independent ER, toy-related injuries generally fall into five categories:
Choking: A small child’s trachea is about as wide as a straw, which means small objects can easily become lodged in their airway. Choking is a top cause of accidental deaths among children younger than five.
Falls: You’d probably secure a helmet to your child’s head before letting them take off on a new bike, scooter or skateboard. But what about when they’re playing on your backyard swing set? Treehouses, swing sets and other play equipment account for a significant number of injuries in children. These range from minor cuts to serious head injuries.
Eye injuries: Toys cause thousands of eye injuries every year, reports the nonprofit Prevent Blindness. An eye injury can be as minor as a corneal abrasion or as severe as permanent vision loss. Top culprits include BB guns, sports equipment, bungee cords, and toys with rubber bands.
Drowning: Water is a hazard in and of itself. In fact, a small child can drown in just 2 inches of water! When you add toys, the opportunity for injuries increases. For example, The Emergency Center cites mermaid tails as a top drowning hazard. Mermaid tails may look harmless, but they can limit leg movement and increase your child’s chance of drowning.
Car accidents: Outdoor toys like balls, scooters and bikes can contribute to car accidents because they distract from situational awareness. Drivers themselves are often distracted and can’t be relied on to watch out for children.
Selecting safe toys
To prevent accidents, follow these guidelines from the American Public Health Association when selecting toys and gifts for your kids:
Inspect the toy. Read the safety label and instructions. Make sure it’s age-appropriate and meets American Society for Testing and Materials standards. (Look for “ASTM” on the product label.)
Avoid toys with small parts. Pay special attention to parts your child could easily bite or pull off, such as buttons, foam, or magnets. A good general rule is that if an object can fit inside a toilet paper roll, it’s too small.
Avoid toys with ropes or cords. These can easily become wrapped around a child’s neck. Avoid toys with sharp edges. Inspect all angles of the toy.
Choose durable toys. Toys get tossed around, especially if you have young children. You want to be confident they won’t break or shatter.
Choose nontoxic crayons, markers, and other art supplies. Toddlers are notorious for putting everything in their mouths, so expect them to taste any art supplies you give them.
Include protective gear with sports equipment. For example, if you’re gifting your child a bike, include kneepads and a helmet. Or if you’re setting up a new swing set, install padding to absorb the shock from falls.
Buying gifts for the children in your life may bring more joy to you than them. By following these tips, you can enjoy gift-giving with peace of mind.
By Applied Systems, Inc.