Thanks to tougher lead and manufacturing standards, toy-related fatalities in the US decreased in 2009. But toy-related injuries among children under 15 still remain on the rise, according to statistics from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). In a safety alert issued November 18, 2010, the CPSC notes at least 186,000 emergency room visits in 2009 to treat children for toy-related injuries, up from 152,000 injuries in 2005. Injuries typically involved lacerations, contusions, and abrasions that most often occurred to a child's face and head.
"By limiting metals and chemicals in toys and making the voluntary standard mandatory, CPSC has put safeguards in place for toys to better protect children," says Chairman Inez Tenenbaum. "The increase in injuries is a concern, and we want parents to make safe purchases and for children to be safe at play."
With the holiday toy-buying season upon us, the CPSC is encouraging consumers to adopt a three-pronged safety approach:
- Always choose age-appropriate toys.
- Include safety gear whenever shopping for sports-related gifts or ride-on toys, including bicycles, skates, and scooters.
- Be aware of your child's surroundings during play. Young children should avoid playing with ride-on toys near automobile traffic, pools, or ponds. (Ride-on toys are a leading cause of toy-related fatalities and injuries.) Children should also avoid playing in indoor areas associated with hazards such as kitchens and bathrooms and in rooms with corded window blinds.
What other considerations should you keep in mind when buying toys? Once the gifts are open, the CPSC also offers parents these additional toy-safety steps:
- Discard plastic wrappings or other packaging on toys before they become dangerous play things, keeping toys for older children away from younger.
- Keep toys appropriate for older children away from younger siblings.
- Charging batteries should be supervised by adults. 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.
This holiday season, the CPSC also urges parents to remember general toy safety precautions, such as not giving children under 6 years old building or play sets with small magnets. (If magnets or pieces with magnets are swallowed, serious injuries and/or death can occur.) Any toy with small parts should be avoided for children under 3 years old.