There’s nothing like a child’s expression when getting a new toy. But toy safety belongs at the top of your holiday shopping list.
A landmark study from Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, found that more than 3 million kids went to U.S. emergency rooms from 1990 through 2011 for toy-related injuries.
Falls and collisions are the most common injuries overall, but kids face different safety threats from toys depending on their age. Under 3, the greatest risk is choking on small toys and toy parts. Swallowing objects is common among kids under 5.
Forty-two percent of injuries in kids aged 5 to 17, and 28 percent of those under age 5, involve riding toys — from tricycles to scooters. There have been more than 500,000 injuries related to foot-powered scooters since that craze started in 2000, many involving a broken bone or a dislocation.
To keep kids safe, always read the guidelines printed on toy packaging — and look closely in case they’re in small print. Avoid all toys with small parts that a child could put into his or her mouth and choke on. Teach children to use any ride-on toys safely. Closely supervise kids and outfit them with the appropriate safety gear.
Try these additional tips from the Nationwide Children’s Hospital and Safekids.org:
- Follow age restrictions and all other toy manufacturer warnings.
- Regularly check your child’s toys for any parts that have become loose and therefore pose a choking hazard.
- Limit riding toys to dry, flat surfaces far away from roads with vehicular traffic.
- Closely supervise children under age 8 when on a riding toy.
- Make sure kids wear helmets, kneepads and elbow pads on all riding toys, including bikes.
- Regularly check the U.S. government’s Recalls.gov to see if any toys that you’ve bought or are about to buy have been recalled.
Check out SafeKids.org for more safety tips and helpful links.