If you’ve got kids on your holiday shopping list, there are a few safety tips you should know before heading to the toy store or mall. In 2014, more than 251,000 toy-related injuries were treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms. With such an alarming statistic, it’s important to remember that a majority of these injuries are easily avoidable by just following a few simple steps.
Dr. Robert Lapus, UTHealth emergency medicine physician and director of the Pediatric Emergency department at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital and Children’s Memorial Hermann Memorial City, offers a few quick, easy and practical tips to keep in mind when shopping for children this holiday season.
Select toys that are age-appropriate.
- Swallowing or choking on small toy parts is common during the holidays. To avoid this, make sure that your gifts are age appropriate by checking recommendations on the box, especially if you are a new parent or a friend or family member who is unfamiliar with toy safety.
- Though the newest Star Wars® Lego® set is not appropriate for your three-year-old, they almost always make toddler-friendly versions, so don’t stress. Your little one will get to experience the greatness that is Star Wars!
- A toy that’s great for a twelve-year-old may be hazardous to a younger sibling. Toys meant for older kids should be stored in a place where the younger children can’t access them.
Supervise the use of the toys.
- Always monitor playtime. Most toy-related injuries can be avoided by an adult simply being present and alert.
- Set rules for how, when and where toys can be used. This is especially important with any type of BB, pellet, or paintball gun. Make sure your kids know to never use these without adult supervision.
- Throughout the year, check your kid’s toys for broken parts, sharp points or jagged edges that could become unsafe during play.
Safer holidays are happier holidays.
- Make sure to buy and use the necessary safety gear. More than 250,000 children are treated in hospital emergency rooms each year for bicycle-related injuries. Wearing a bike helmet can reduce the risk of head injury by as much as 85 percent.
- This year, hover boards, which can be very dangerous if not used properly, are the No. 1 requested gift among middle-schoolers. Teach kids the right way to ride these types of toys and where it is safe to use them.
- Have an adult assemble toys and check for any loose staples, screws or batteries that could be harmful. Light-up toys, in particular, require button batteries that if swallowed can get stuck in the esophagus and cause injury or even death.
As toys become more sophisticated and complex, it’s up to adults to make sure that they are safe and suitable for each individual child. Unnecessary trips to the hospital because of toy injuries can be avoided by being cautious and aware. And that will make the holidays happier for everyone.