(12/09/10) - The holiday season is here and for many kids that means one thing: toys. Approximately 50 percent of all toy purchases in the United States occur between the Friday after Thanksgiving and Christmas.
While parents are on a mad-dash to scoop up the hottest toys, safety should be at the top of their wish lists. Each year, an estimated 169,300 toy-related injuries in children ages 14 years and younger are treated in hospital emergency rooms across the United States. With the federal toy safety standards passed by Congress in 2008, parents can be reassured that the vast majority of toys on store shelves are safe.
"Right now parents and caregivers are in the middle of the country's busiest toy-buying season, and the improved safety standards allow them to shop with more confidence than ever," says Erin Faile, Safe Kids Florence coordinator. "However, it doesn't mean we should throw caution to the wind. Shoppers should still make sure they are buying age appropriate toys and following important toy safety guidelines. The Consumer Product Safety Commission should continue to monitor the marketplace to ensure that toys comply with these standards."
Top five tips for making sure children's toys are safe during this holiday season:
• Before shopping for toys, consider the child's age, interest and skill level. A fun, but inappropriate toy for a particular child can be dangerous.
• Make sure toys intended for older children are stored separately from those for younger children.
• Keep toys with small parts away from children under age 3. They can choke on small toys and toy parts.
• Check regularly for damage that could create small pieces that are choking hazards. Make any necessary repairs immediately, or discard damaged toys out of the reach of children.
• Actively supervise children when they are playing with riding toys as well as any toy that has small balls and small parts, magnets, electrical or battery power, cords and strings, wheels or any other potential hazard. Simply being in the same room as your child is not necessarily supervising. Active supervision means keeping the child in sight and in reach while paying undivided attention.
To stay informed about harmful products in the marketplace, parents can go to www.recalls.gov and sign up for email alerts on recalled children's products. "It's too difficult to get your information piecemeal from TV or the newspaper," adds Faile, "so if you get the emails sent to you each time a recall happens, you'll know right away which products to avoid."
Safe Kids Florence reminds parents that most toys are safe, especially if you buy from a reputable retailer. "That doesn't mean you have to go to a 'big box' store" Lindsey Griffin, Injury Prevention Specialist for Safe Kids Florence says. "But if you shop at a locally-owned toy store, make sure that the owner is aware and vigilant about getting recalled items off the shelves."
If secondhand toys are purchased, or received from friends or relatives, Safe Kids Florence advises parents to visit www.cpsc.gov and make sure the toy hasn't been recalled for safety reasons. Used toys should also be in good condition with all original parts and packaging, if possible. If a new toy comes with a product registration card, mail it in right away so the manufacturer can contact you if the item is ever recalled.
For more information about toy safety call 843-777-5021 or visit www.safekids.org.
Safe Kids Florence works to prevent unintentional childhood injury, the leading cause of death and disability to children ages 1 to 14. Its members include Florence Country Sheriff's Department, City of Florence Police Department, South Carolina Highway Patrol, and the City of Florence Fire Department. Safe Kids Florence is a member of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of organizations dedicated to preventing unintentional injury. Safe Kids Florence was founded in 1995 and is led by McLeod Health and funded in part by the McLeod Health Foundation.