According to the Oklahoma City-County Health Department, injuries kill more children each year than diseases, kidnapping and drugs combined. Children age 4 and younger account for nearly half of toy-related injuries and almost 90 percent of deaths. In Oklahoma, about 130 children through age 15 die each year from unintentional injuries. For every fatality, approximately 45 children require hospitalization and 1,300 require emergency treatment.
These are numbers that aren’t to be taken lightly. The health department offers these tips when purchasing a toy to keep those numbers as low as possible:
1. Always consider the child’s age and maturity level. Purchase a toy suited to the ability, skill and interest level of the child.
2. Toys intended for children older than age 3 should never be given to infants or toddlers. They may have small parts that pose a choking hazard. Children younger than 3 should not be given toys with cords or strings longer than 12 inches. Cords longer than this can get wrapped around a child’s neck.
3. Children younger than age 8 shouldn’t be given toys with sharp edges or toys that run on electricity (not including batteries).
4. Older children should be taught to keep their toys away from younger siblings.
5. Look for well-constructed toys. Check the toys periodically for broken parts that should be repaired or thrown away.
6. Consider the weight, size of the toy.
7. Make sure toys do not contain toxic paint or lead.
8. Costumes or pajamas should be labeled “flame retardant/flame resistant.”
9. If you give a child a bike, roller blades, skateboard or scooter, don’t forget to include safety gear like a helmet, knee pads and wrist guards as part of the gift.
If you started holiday shopping early, you can also check toys to be sure they haven’t been recalled since your purchase. Go to www.cpsc.gov to be sure they aren’t on the list. And if you have children of your own, I highly suggest signing up for the website’s email announcements. As soon as a toy or other children’s item (such as clothes, cribs, etc.) is recalled, they let you know via email, complete with pictures of the items, where they were sold and when, and what to do with the recalled item.
Holidays are supposed to be a joyous and happy time, especially for the little ones. Let’s all be extra diligent in keeping it safe for them. If you have any other good safety tips, comment here or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.