Although new toy safeguards have contributed to a decline in toy recalls since 2008 and toy-related fatalities decreased in 2009, toy-related injuries are increasing, reports the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
In 2009, about 186,000 emergency room-treated injuries occurred related to toys with children younger than 15. This is up from 152,000 injuries in 2005.
Often these injuries involved cuts and bruises on the child's face and head.
The commission offers these safety tips:
1. Which toy for which child – Always choose age appropriate toys.
2. Gear up for safety – Include safety gear whenever shopping for sports-related gifts or ride-on toys, including bicycles, skates, and scooters.
3. Location - Be aware of your child's surroundings during play. Young children should avoid playing with ride-on toys near automobile traffic, pools, or ponds. They also should avoid playing in indoor areas associated with hazards such as kitchens and bathrooms and in rooms with corded window blinds.
Additional safety steps include:
- Scooters and other riding toys – Helmets and safety gear should be worn properly at all times and be sized to fit.
- Small balls and other toys with small parts – For children younger than age 3, avoid toys with small parts, which can cause choking.
- Balloons – Keep deflated balloons away from children younger than 8 years old to avoid choking or suffocation on deflated or broken balloons. Discard broken balloons at once.
- Magnets – For children under age 6, avoid building or play sets with small magnets. If magnets or pieces with magnets are swallowed, serious injuries and/or death can occur.
After the gifts are open:
- Immediately discard plastic wrappings or other packaging on toys before they become dangerous play things.
- Keep toys appropriate for older children away from younger siblings.
- Supervise the charging of batteries. Chargers and adapters can pose thermal burn hazards to young children. Pay attention to instructions and warnings on battery chargers. Some chargers lack any mechanism to prevent overcharging.
Copyright 2010, Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist