By Marcus Fernandez
When shopping for presents this holiday season, take a moment before completing the purchase to consider if you’re gifting safe toys. Something as simple as a rubber ball or a balloon can block an airway and kill a child.
According to the most currently available data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, an estimated 198,000 visits to emergency departments in 2020 were for treatment of toy-related injuries. About 150,000 were injuries to children 14 years and younger with nine deaths reported within that age group.
You can reduce the risk of a present by knowing how to distinguish a safe toy from a harmful one. Even something labeled as “safe for children” may be hazardous to infants or to children with special needs.
Here to help you with gifting safe toys this holiday season are six tips to determine the safety of a toy for the intended recipient.
Tip 1: Consider the age and temperament of the child
Manufacturers put recommended age levels for toys on the packaging based on safety factors. One of the factors used to determine the age recommendation is the use and abuse a product is put through by children of the specified age group. Another is the appropriateness of the toy for the developmental level of children within the recommended age range.
You must ultimately decide on your own whether the recommended age level makes the toy appropriate based on the temperament, behavior and habits of the child receiving it. For example, buying a toy that is labeled as appropriate for 4-year-olds might not be appropriate for your 4-year-old.
Something else to consider is other children living in the household. The small parts of a gift appropriate for an 8-year-old could pose a safety hazard to a younger sibling. Unless you know there will be adequate adult supervision, you may wish to buy something that doesn’t pose a risk to younger children.
Tip 2: Avoid toys that shoot projectiles
Toys featuring projectiles that are shot or that fly off should be avoided. The obvious risk is an eye injury, but a less obvious risk is when younger children find the projectiles. Depending upon the size of the object and the age of the child, it could pose a choking hazard.
Tip 3: Buy any protective equipment the gift may require
Helmets and other protective gear should be included when you purchase sports equipment, including:
Including helmets, arm and knee pads, and other protective gear as part of the gift avoids the likelihood that a child will attempt to use the equipment without being properly protected from injuries. If you prefer, arrange to have someone else buy the helmet if you’re buying the bike.
Tip 4: Look for hazards that may not be obvious
You finally find a safe and age-appropriate gift and choose a musical card to go along with it. Greeting cards that play songs are popular with both children and adults, but before you buy it, think for a moment about what powers the musical device. It’s probably a small button battery that could be a choking hazard for a young child.
Look for hazards that may be hidden or not obvious when buying something to give to a child. Toys that use batteries and magnets should be avoided when the intended recipient is a young child who may put them in their mouths.
Tip 5: Do your own inspection
The final decision about whether or not a toy is safe to give to a child is up to you, so do your own inspection of the item before giving it as a gift. The following are some of the things to look for:
- All parts should be tightly fastened with edges and seams that do not leave gaps.
- Edges should not be sharp, pointed or capable of causing cuts or puncture wounds.
- Toys that appear flimsy should be avoided as they will not hold up to wear and tear. Toys that break apart can expose children to sharp edges or pieces that may present a choking hazard.
It is also important to remove packing material, including plastic bags, used by manufacturers before you give a toy to young children to reduce the risk of suffocation or other hazard.
Tip 6: Check for product recalls
Before buying a toy or other product intended for use by children, check to make certain it has not been the subject of a safety recall by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. You can check for recalls at the CPSC website.
Get advice from a Tampa personal injury attorney
When a toy or other product causes injuries, the manufacturer may be held responsible for producing a defective product. If you or your child have been injured by a consumer product, contact a Tampa personal injury lawyer about your right to recover compensation for injuries caused by a defective or dangerous product.