WINNSBORO — As children gather around the tree this holiday season and open their gifts, parents need to be mindful of safety amidst the celebration. Though toys are labeled according to a child’s age and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has many safety guidelines, accidents and injuries occur.
Despite the regulations in 2011 CPSC reported 193,200 toy related injuries to children less than 15 years of age.
According to Dr. Shubha Kudchadkar with Winnsboro Pediatrics/Eau Claire cooperative community health care common injuries were choking, strangulation, punctures and cuts, burns, exposure to toxic chemicals, hearing loss from loud toys, ingestion of powerful magnets and button batteries causing serious intestinal injuries etc.
Kudchadkar offered some guidelines for parents to keep their children safe.
“Beware of choking as this is the most common cause of toy related death in a child under three years. Children tend to put everything in their mouths. Small parts of a toy, marbles and balloons less than 1.75 inches in diameter can completely block a child’s airway.”
She also said that uninflated or broken balloons can pose a choking hazard. Plastic film covering toys is another source for choking accidents. Punctures and cuts are another risk so parents should beware of toys with sharp edges or points or toys made of thin brittle plastics can easily break and leave pointed edges posing a danger for a cut.
“Another risk is from strangulation because small children do not have the skills to untangle themselves,” she said. “Toys with strings that fit around neck, including toys like guitars, pose risks of getting entangled leading to strangulation. Even clothing with drawstrings on the hood can get caught on a fixed object, such as playground equipment and lead to strangulation.”
Magnets and small batteries also pose a serious risk, particularly if they become dislodged from a toy.
“Small magnets in toys if come loose are shiny and look like candy. If swallowed two magnets at different spots in intestine may connect causing blockage,” Dr. Kudchadkar said. “Small button batteries in the toys if swallowed can cause fatal battery acid injury.”
She also advised that caution be used with toys containing flammable material, such toy gun caps containing pyrotechnic material that can ignite with friction. Crayons, paint sets, and play cosmetics may contain toxic chemicals. There might be lead in some jewelry and certain paints that could expose a child to lead toxicity.
Kudchadkar has the following tips for parents:
• Buy safe toys that are age specific to your child. Take into account your child’s capabilities. Electric toys pose hazard of shock and burn. Ask “is my child mature enough to play with this toy?”
• Encourage children not to put their toys in their mouths.
• Remove all plastic coverings on toys.
• Cut out the loose straps or strings that might pose danger.
• Keep toys intended for older children away from young ones.
• Check all toys periodically for breakage and potential hazards.
• Teach kids to store toys safely after playing to prevent tripping or falling and to make sure younger siblings can’t get to inappropriate toys.
• Accessorize your kids for safety: For instance, if you give bicycles or skates or scooters then provide helmets, knee pads, elbow pads and wrist guards. Make sure the child wears the equipment.
• Pay attention to all toy recalls and act according to recall recommendations.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against the home use of trampolines and against the use of 4 wheel ATVs for children under age 16. Kudchadkar also says parents should be mindful that children are at a big risk of getting hurt from non-powder guns like BB guns, pellet guns and paintball guns.