Remember the old movie “The Christmas Story?” The classic scene when Ralphie asks for a BB gun for Christmas, and Santa replies, “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid.” Santa’s warning holds true with some of the season’s hottest toys this year, especially for boys.
Some of the season’s hot selling items include flying Nerf missiles, and smaller parts that could easily become choking hazards for younger siblings. Safety is key in keeping this holiday season merry.
Liz Moreno, a child advocate with the Lee Memorial Healthcare System and the Safe Kids coordinator in the Children’s Hospital, is gearing up for diverse questions from parents and caregivers in December.
“Believe it or not, we see a lot of candle burns on children at this time of year,” Moreno said. “Parents should be more careful with certain kids’ toys, like guns, along with small balls and balloons, and toys with strings, which can be choking hazards for children.”
Yet Jackie Stephens, CEO of the Children’s Advocacy Center in Collier County, says what comes to mind for her organization is age appropriateness for toy giving.
“It’s particularly hard when you have a family with older siblings, and the older child gets something like Legos and the smaller child could place it in their mouth and choke,” she said. “Wearing bike helmets while riding new bikes and tricycles, and preventing choking hazards in smaller children is recommended by the Children’s Advocacy Center.”
“With younger children, you want to be extra careful,” explained Greg Speers, a community relations officer with the East Naples Fire Control and Rescue District. “Make sure smaller pieces of toys don’t get into the hands of infants and toddlers.”
Most importantly, Speers recommends a properly fitted bicycle helmet for children riding bicycles.
“If they get a new bike for the holidays, make sure there is a helmet included, and safety pads and gear are included for scooters, skateboards, and skates,” he said. “When we do our toy drive, we never let a bike leave without a properly sized helmet.”
Keep safety tips in mind when selecting a safer toy for your family by visiting www.safekids.org. Safe Kids provides quick facts for families to be safe with toys for children this holiday season.
From the National Safe Kids Campaign:
• Each year, approximately 217,000 toy-related injuries are treated in hospital emergency rooms.
• Twenty toy-related deaths in children were reported in 2005. In the same year, there were 75,000 toy-related injuries in children under 14 years of age.
• In 2005, 46 percent of toy-related injuries were to the head or face.
• In the United States, more than 3 billion toys and games are sold annually.
How the accidents happen:
• Many toy-related deaths are caused by choking, drowning, a motor vehicle incident, or strangulation.
• Small play balls and balloons account for many choking deaths.
• Riding toys including un-powered scooters and tricycles are associated with more injuries than any other toy group. In 2005, more than 58,000 injuries to children were treated in hospital emergency rooms due to injuries sustained from a riding toy.
Who gets hurt:
• Children under age 3 are high risk for choking on toys.
• Males account for more than 58 percent of all toy-related injuries.
• Children under 8 years of age are at a higher risk for choking on uninflated or broken latex balloons.
• The website of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has updated information and pictures of recalled toys that may be harmful to children (www.cpsc.gov).
• Mylar balloons are safer than latex balloons because of the safety sealing valve. Also, mylar balloons remain in one piece once deflated or popped, unlike latex balloons which present a choking hazard.
• Any toys with strings, straps or cords longer than 7 inches can be a strangulation hazard to a child.
• Electrical toys are a potential burn hazard. Children under age 8 years of age should not use toys with electrical plugs or batteries.
Laws and regulations:
• The Child Safety Protection Act requires choking hazard warning labels on packaging for small balls, balloons, marbles, and certain toys and games containing small parts. This act also bans any toy intended for use by children under 3 years of age that may pose a choking, aspiration or ingestion hazard.
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Check out a sampling of unsafe toys for 2010 at toysafety.mobi/index.php?page=examples&title=Unsafe+Toy+List+2010.