There is nothing more heartwarming than watching a child gleefully unwrap a new toy. Sometimes, though, beneath the shimmery bows and glossy paper is a gift that could do unintentional harm to its recipient. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), approximately 251,800 children were treated in hospital emergency departments for toy-related injuries in 2014. South County Physical Therapy, Inc. (SCPT) is shining a spotlight on this issue during Safe Toys and Gifts Month, with ten gift-giving tips to help you choose safe holiday gifts for your loved ones.
- If a toy fits through a paper towel roll, don’t consider it for children under three years of age, who often put non-food items inside their mouths. Small parts can pose a serious choking hazard, so check the packaging labels for a recommended age listing.
- Leave balloons out of your holiday festivities. According to CPSC, balloons are the number one cause of suffocation and death amongst children’s products. Children can choke on uninflated balloons while attempting to blow them up, and broken pieces can obstruct airways.
- If it’s sharp or pointy, leave it on the shelf. Dangerous edges can lead to cuts, scrapes, and eye injuries.
- If a toy has wheels, don’t forget the safety equipment. A gift of a bicycle, scooter, or roller skates should be given with appropriate gear like a helmet, knee pads, and elbow protectors.
- Unless you’re a parent who’s prepared to care for an animal, don’t give pets as gifts.
- Prevent Blindness America suggests looking for the letters “ASTM” on packages, which means the product meets the national safety standards regulated by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).
- If a toy has long straps or strings, consider something different. gov states that cords longer than seven inches may pose a risk of strangulation.
- Many playsets include small magnets to hold structures together. If swallowed, magnets can cause intestinal damage or a fatal blockage.
- The CPSC recently issued a product safety alert regarding caps for toy guns. When stored inside a pocket, friction can ignite the caps and result in burn injuries.
- Toys that include small balls or marbles present a choking hazard—when in doubt, choose another toy.
SCPT hopes this list is helpful to you as you set out on your holiday shopping endeavors. For product safety alerts, visit the CPSC’s Recall List. SCPT wishes you a happy and safe holiday season.