The last thing any family wants during the holidays is a trip to the Emergency Room. According to a study published in Clinical Pediatrics analyzing emergency room data from 1990 to 2011, there has been a 40 percent increase in reported toy-related injuries in the United States alone. In 2011, this amounted to a child being hurt every three minutes. In an effort to keep children safe this holiday season, the Pediatric Trauma Center at Cooper University Health Care has prepared a list of the top 10 tips for toy safety.
1. Check age guidelines. Make sure all toys are age, interest, and skill-level appropriate.
2. Throw away wrapping immediately. Plastic, wire twist ties, and rubber bands quickly become dangerous to children, be sure to dispose of all packaging items promptly.
3. Provide well fitted helmets and pads with new bikes and other riding toys. Children will want to test drive their new bikes. Wrap helmets with the bike, so they are not forgotten.
4. Avoid toys with many small, removable parts. Small items can be choking hazards, limiting the number of pieces can reduce the risk of choking.
5. Keep toys for older children out of the reach of young children. Designating areas for older children to play will help keep younger children away from danger. Teach older children the importance of cleaning up their toys after playing.
6. Check safety guidelines for each toy. Make sure toys are non-toxic, as many toys end up in children’s mouths.
7. Remove silica gel packets. Products may be packaged with silica gel to keep them dry, these packets are toxic and extremely dangerous for children, yet are often over looked. Remove and properly dispose of these packets immediately.
8. Supervise play. Observe children to ensure toys are being played with properly and safely.
9. Look for washable toys. Regular washing of toys can limit the spread of germs and illness.
10. Regularly check toys for damage. Toys become damaged over time, routinely check toys for damage and dispose of any toys that cannot be repaired.
Nicole M. Fox, MD, MPH, FACS,
Medical Director of Level II Pediatric Trauma Center
at Cooper University Health Care