Playing It Safe With Toys
More than 100,000 children are injured each year in accidents involving toys, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Falls and choking account for the majority of such injuries, but children also suffer strangulation, burns, drowning, and poisoning while playing with toys.
Some toys are defective—many are recalled by their manufacturers annually—and others are inherently unsafe by design. But a number of toys cause injury simply because they are used by children who are too young to play with them. Balloons, for example, pose virtually no risk to older children but they cause almost half of the choking deaths of young children.
Choking, in fact, is by far the leading cause of toy-related deaths, especially in children ages 4 and under. Small children are especially susceptible to choking on toys because of the small size of their upper airways and their desire to put everything in their mouths.
How can an adult prevent toy-related injuries? By reading labels on toys, examining toys before giving them to children, teaching children how to use toys correctly, and supervising play. The Consumer Products Safety Commission gives these tips for safe use and maintenance of toys:
- Discard all packaging in a new toy. Plastic wrapping poses a suffocation hazard, and plastic peanuts pose a choking hazard in young children.
- Keep product literature and send in warranty cards, so that you can be located in the case of product recalls.
- Read and keep toy instructions and teach children how to use the toy.
- Keep balloons away from children under 8 years old. Uninflated or broken balloons are the number one cause of choking.
- Remove crib gyms that are stretched across an infant’s crib as soon as the child can pull up on his hands and knees. Children have been strangled by falling across these toys.
- Never hang toys with string or cord, particularly when used by children under age 3.
- Wash stuffed and cloth toys frequently to prevent germs.
- Teach older children to keep their toys away from younger children.
- Supervise play with projectile toys, which have the potential to blind or deafen a child. Teach children never to aim darts, arrows or other such objects at others.
Source: The US Consumer Product Safety Commission and World Book Medical 2000
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