RICHLAND COUNTY — Christmas is a time especially for children and for children this means toys. Each year more than 3 billion toys and games are sold in the United States with 65 percent of these sales occurring between Thanksgiving and the day before Christmas. Although toys are fun and educational they can be dangerous. Poorly designed and constructed toys, or toys that are inappropriate for your child’s level of development can cause serious injury, and in some cases, death.
Richland Public Health and Safe Kids USA offer the following tips and suggestions (and there is a more extensive list of suggestions at richlandhealth.org):
What you should look for:
- If there is an age warning, stick to the recommendation. Do not buy “older” toys for young children.
- Remember that young children may be especially vulnerable to choking on small parts and toys containing these should be avoided when buying for this group.
There are various things you can check on the toy:
- Sharp edges.
- Hidden spikes.
- Loose facial features, wheels, tires and other small parts: These should be securely fixed to the toy.
- Secure seams: if the seams are loose and the stuffing accessible, a child could choke on it.
- Any cord on a pull along toy should be at least 1.5 mm thick.
- Any holes or gaps into which children could put their fingers and suffer harm from the mechanical parts inside.
- Brittle plastic which could shatter into small sharp pieces.
- Folding mechanisms: How much damage would they do if a child’s finger were caught in them?
- Show your child how to use a toy safely. Joining in can be fun.
- Check toys regularly and dispose of broken toys carefully.
- Encourage your child to be tidy. Toys left lying around can be a hazard for children, elderly people and others.
- Buy the right toy for the age of the child. If you have children of various ages then remember that a toy for an older child can be dangerous for younger children.
- Remove any plastic bag in which the toy is wrapped, and dispose of it safely.
- Watch out for staples in the packaging.
- Check the toy when you are in the store before you buy it. Use the checklist above.
Richland Public Health cautions toy buyers to be aware of items with painted surfaces that may contain lead paint. This usually involves cheap small plastic toys made in China. The Health Department and Safe Kids USA suggests consumers sign up to receive products recalls with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (www.cpsc.gov).