Safe Toys and Gifts Month

Prevent Blindness America has declared December as Safe Toys and Gifts Awareness Month. The group encourages everyone to consider if the toys they wish to give suits the age and individual skills and abilities of the individual child who will receive it, especially for infants and children under age three. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 251,700 toy-related injuries in 2010 throughout the United States. 72% were to people less than 15 years of age. Additionally, in 2007 alone, toymakers recalled over 19 million toys worldwide because of safety concerns such as lead paint and small magnets.

When it comes to toys and gifts, the excitement and desire to get your children their favorite toys may cause shoppers to forget about safety factors associated with them. Before you make these purchases, it is critical to remember to consider the safety and age range of the toys. Many toys have the potential to cause eye injuries,” states American Academy of Ophthalmology spokesperson and ophthalmologist David G. Hunter, MD, Ph.D. “Being aware and thoughtful about what you are putting in your children’s hands is the best preventative medicine…choose toys that are appropriate for their child’s age and abilities, as well s the parent’s willingness to supervise use of the toys.”

Buy age appropriate toys. Children soon let you know if you’ve purchased them a toy that’s below their age group and most shoppers take great care to avoid such a slip-up. Yet, strangely we’re prone to thinking that purchasing toys that are meant for an older age group is fine, as if somehow it’s suggesting that the child in question is smarter than their age group already, or they’ll “grow into it“. Be aware of what’s not considered safe this season. It’s a really good idea to keep an eye on a consumer watchdog site to find out which toys have been recalled recently so that you can avoid buying them.

Read the warnings and safety precautions accompanying the toy. These will give you a good idea of suitability and safety issues for the child in question. Read the instructions accompanying any toys. Do they make sense? Are they clear? Are you left with any questions? If you cannot understand the instructions and the retailer isn’t able to help you out, put the toy back on the shelf and let the retailer know that you don’t consider the instructions adequately clear to ensure the toy’s safe use.

Avoid getting anything that has excess string or cords, such as slingshots. Never consider BB guns as toys for kids – not only are these not kid’s toys, they can take out an eye all too easily and leave the victim blinded. Buy for durability. With small children, durability is essential. Inspect all gifts as children open them, if the gift(s) are from someone outside the family, it’s a good idea to inspect the gift quickly to ensure that it’s safe to play with. Take time to explain how to use the toy or gift to a child or to anyone who needs instruction. If your kid is aware how to use the toy properly and is aware of how easily it can be broken or ruined, then they are alerted to taking care of it in advance.

By taking proper precautions, whether providing age-appropriate toys or proper protective eyewear, you can protect your child from injury. We all want our children to be happy and healthy, and we want to protect them from harm. We can best achieve this goal by getting our children yearly wellness check-ups and eye examinations before school, as well as by providing safe toys, environments, and adult supervision.