Editorial: Keep toys safe, fun for kids

Pierce County Herald
12/9/10

Although children play with toys all year, there’s a particular emphasis on them during the holiday season.

Because toys are primarily intended for kids, they might seem innocent and safe. They’re meant to be fun, but the Wisconsin Association for Justice advises they can also be dangerous. Many small parts, batteries, paints and plastics can impact how safe toys really are.

Children’s safety should be first and foremost, and can be protected with the help of the U.S. Product Safety Commission (CPSC). It’s wise to do some homework before making a toy purchase. Check with CPSC for information on toy safety recalls as well as toy safety tips. View this information by visiting www.cpsc.gov or calling (800) 638-CPSC.

There’s some potential for toys to cause injuries and even death. Until November of 2009, CPSC had 38 toy recalls that year, down from 162 in 2008. The decline is attributed to such factors as new federal safety rules.

An estimated 235,300 toy-related injuries were treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments in 2008. That year, CPSC received 19 reports of toy-related deaths among children younger than age 15. Most of the deaths were associated with drowning, motor vehicle involvement, or airway obstruction from small toys or parts.

To keep toys safe for children, consider the following:

—Age appropriate toys;

—Pay attention to instructions and warning labels on toys and charging devices;

—Immediately throw away any packaging, wrapping or other materials;

—Charging of batteries should be supervised by adults.

When buying secondhand items and from online sources, make sure the products haven’t been recalled, banned or don’t meet current safety standards. Other safety suggestions include:

—Wearing helmets and safety gear for riding toys, skates and skateboards;

—Watch carefully for toys having magnets, as they can come off and cause choking risk or other internal injuries;

—Children younger than age three shouldn’t be given toys with small parts.

Regularly inspect children’s toys and play areas to look for loose parts, magnets, plastics or wrappings. Never leave children unattended with items such as balloons, bags or anything with strings or ropes attached.

Be concerned about products making loud noises and the damage noise-making toys can cause to children’s hearing. Check packaging for information about noise level.

Make sure any toys firing projectiles such as darts or arrows have soft tips or rubber suction cups to prevent injury and regularly inspect to make sure these are still attached.

Again, be part of children’s safety by doing homework before buying toys, and regularly inspecting these items and play areas.

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