December is National Safe Toys and Gifts Month

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News Release
 
For Immediate Release: 12/6/2021
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CONTACT
Barb Tyler, Office of Communications, (402) 471-3486,
barb.tyler@nebraska.gov

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LINCOLN, Neb. – More than 217,000 children are treated in emergency rooms annually for toy-related injuries, either because of the toy itself or due to the mishandling of it. As part of an effort to reduce that number of mostly preventable injuries, Prevent Blindness America has declared December National Safe Toys and Gifts Month. 

The Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) reported that in 2018 there were 17 toy-related fatalities. Most of the injuries (72%) involved children under the age of 15, and most of the fatalities were caused by automobiles and non-motorized scooters. Other deaths were caused by airway obstruction such as rubber balls, balloons, toy darts, toy food, and stuffed dolls. Last on the list were drownings and electrocutions. It is estimated that an average of 11,000 toy-related eye injuries occur in children each year, with the majority coming from BB guns and other weapon-related toys. Bungee cords, used for purposes such as securing items to bikes, are another leading cause of eye injuries. Sports equipment may cause some hazards; always make sure that children wear proper protective eyewear when engaging in sports. Toys with rubber bands can also cause eye injuries. 

In recent years, CPSC has created a robust toy safety system by requiring testing by independent, third-party testing laboratories around the world. Toymakers have also helped in improving safety by willingly recalling products across the globe when safety concerns arise, such as the presence of lead paint and small magnets. However, shoppers still need to take precautions. Buying toys and other gifts are one of the most exciting parts of the holiday season, so before making any purchases this year, keep safety in mind so the holidays don't turn from the happiest time of the year to the scariest.

Tips for keeping your child safe this holiday season: 

  • Make sure the toy is age-appropriate. Keep in mind the child's age and development level (most toys offer an age range for guidance). If shopping for infants and children with special needs, look for toys that appeal to the senses (sound, light, movement, texture, etc.). And finally, remember the rule that if the piece can fit in a toilet paper roll, it is not meant for children under 3 years of age.

  • Most riding-toy injuries are from falls. Children fall off their bikes, scooters, skateboards, and in-line skates often, especially if they are inexperienced. Falls can result in cuts, scrapes, bruises, bone fractures, and severe head injuries. Children are also at risk of falling from treehouses and swing sets and other playground equipment. The best way to prevent an injury from a fall is proper padding, using kneepads, elbow pads, and helmets. Make sure to properly educate a child about the dangers of not paying attention when playing near streets and especially school zones.

  • Choking is one of the most common toy-related injuries. A child's trachea is extremely narrow, so even the tiniest of pieces from a toy can block a child's airway and cause suffocation, which is the fourth leading cause of unintentional deaths in children under five years old. Toy manufacturers are required to put warnings on labels for choking hazards, so always inspect a toy before allowing a child to play with it. 

  • Children can choke or suffocate on deflated or broken balloons. Keep deflated balloons away from children younger than eight years old; discard broken balloons immediately. Once gifts are opened, immediately discard plastic wrapping or other toy packaging before the wrapping and packaging become dangerous playthings.

  • High-powered magnet sets are dangerous and should be kept away from children. Whether marketed for children or adults, building and play sets with small magnets should also be kept away from small children.

  • Keep toys that are appropriate for older children away from younger siblings.

  • Water safety is important when it comes to toys. One popular toy is a mermaid tail that is worn in the water. However, it can limit leg movement and may make swimming more difficult. Almost 900 children die each year from drowning, which is the number two cause of death in children. Always make sure that children swim only under adult supervision.

  • Battery charging should be supervised by adults; chargers and adapters can pose thermal burn hazards to young children. Pay attention to instructions and warnings on battery chargers, as some chargers lack any mechanism to prevent overcharging. 

The CPSC provides free safety alerts, guides, posters, brochures, handbooks and other materials that can be used to help spread consumer product safety information in your community.​

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