Toy Safety for the Holidays and Every Day
For many families with children, the December holidays often mean the addition of new toys and games to the home. While toys should be all fun and games it’s important to be aware of toy safety this holiday season and throughout the year to keep your children happy and safe when they play.
This season’s most talked about toy is the two-wheeled self-balancing motorized scooter board, commonly referred to as a hoverboard. News media outlets have reported fire safety concerns with some of the lithium ion batteries which power the boards. Reports suggest that these faulty batteries are an issue particularly with lower cost, generic boards you generally find on eBay and Alibaba for under $300 or counterfeit boards that have made their way to Amazon and Ebay through third-party sellers. If a hoverboard is on your child or teen’s wish list this year, be sure to do your homework before selecting a brand and model, including reading online reviews.
For general toy safety:
- Look for labeling that toys have passed a safety inspection – “ATSM” means the toy has met the American Society for Testing and Materials standards.
- Be sure to select age appropriate toys. Follow the recommended guidelines on packaging to avoid choking hazards and other injuries. Government regulations specify that toys for children under age three cannot have parts less than 1 1/4 inches in diameter and 2 1/4 inches long. Keep older kids’ toys away from young children.
- To prevent burns and electrical shocks, do not give young children (under age 10) a toy that must be plugged into an electrical outlet. Instead, look for toys that are battery-operated.
- Protect children from exposure to lead in metal and plastic toys, especially imported toys, antique toys, and toy jewelry. Lead in products marketed to children was banned in U.S. in 1978 but is still widely used in other countries. Lead is invisible to the naked eye and has no smell and children may be exposed from normal hand-to-mouth activity. The Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSCP) lists recalled toys their website http://www.cpsc.gov/ or call the CPSC (1-800-638-2772) for more information.
- Batteries, especially button sized ones, and magnets can cause serious stomach and intestinal problems – including death – if swallowed. In addition to toys, Small button-sized batteries are often found in musical greeting cards, remote controls, hearing aids, and other small electronics. Small, powerful magnets are present in many homes as part of building toy sets. Keep button batteries and magnets away from young children and call your health care provider immediately if your child swallows one.
- Properly sized helmets and safety gear should be worn when using riding toys, bikes, skateboards, scooters, in-line skates, hoverboards and other sports equipment.
- Children can choke or suffocate on uninflated or broken balloons; do not allow children under age 8 to play with them.
- Avoid toys that shoot or include parts that fly off as these can cause serious eye injuries. Toys should have not have sharp edges or points and should be sturdy enough to withstand impact without breaking, being crushed, or being pulled apart easily.
- Remove tags, strings, and ribbons from toys before giving them to young children.
- Watch for pull toys with strings that are more than 12 inches in length. They could be a strangulation hazard for babies.
- Be sure a toy isn’t too loud for your child. The noise from some to musical or electronic toys can be as loud as a car horn — even louder if a child holds it directly to the ears – and can contribute to hearing damage.
The Whittier Street Health Center team wishes you a safe and joyous holiday season. Have fun and be safe!