Like many of you, I’m trying to work in my holiday gift shopping whenever I can. As a mother of three boys, I know finding the right, age-appropriate gift can be a challenge. And as a mother of three boys, I know that even what might seem like a safe toy can cause destruction around the house or, worse, present a safety hazard.
Toy injuries accounted for 165,000 injuries among American children 14 and younger in 2015, according to a report released last month by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Although most were just cuts and bruises, 11 children lost their lives. That’s 11 children too many.
There are a few simple measures you can take to keep your children safe, as outlined by a spokeswoman from the American College of Emergency Physicians. Buying age-appropriate toys is crucial, as is making sure you include safety gear for any riding toys and watching the kids to make sure they’re playing in safe area (perhaps no playing football or swordfighting in the kitchen — though I admit failure on this point). Also read the instructions on a new toy and keep track of toy recalls.
But there are more subtle dangers to be aware of, like batteries, as small ones can look like candy. The Consumer Product Safety Commission also cautions against magnets and deflated or torn balloons, which can be an asphyxiation hazard. Children’s magnetic toys must adhere to safety standards that keep them from being swallowed, but high-powered magnets or small magnets especially should be kept away from the kids. Deflated balloons should be kept away from kids younger than 8.
Follow these guidelines when you do your shopping this year, and you will be thankful to spend the holidays at home rather than in the emergency department. WSHA member hospitals and health systems are always there when you need them, but they surely would rather you have a safe day than need their care.
WSHA Executive Vice President and incoming President and CEO