December is Safe Toys and Gifts Month, which is the perfect time to freshen up on toy safety – especially while you are shopping for Christmas presents this month.
Safe Toys and Gifts Month was started to bring awareness to adults when shopping for gifts for younger children. Toys are supposed to be fun and enjoyable, but for some children, these toys can pose serious safety risks when they are not appropriately made or used correctly.
In 2011, there were an estimated 262,300 children injured by toys in the United States. Out of that number, 72 percent were under 15 years old.
Therefore, when you are evaluating your toy choices this year, you need to consider the safety as well as your gift buying budget.
10 Ways to Prevent Toy Injuries in Indianapolis This Year
Over the past few years, the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has established guidelines for manufacturers to ensure that toys are safe.
Already, manufacturers must ensure third-party, independent agencies test their toys. Also, the organization has strict lead and phthalate limitations for children’s toys, and toys are inspected at ports of entry before they can enter the United States.
While these safeguards are in place, you still cannot trust that the toy you purchase is safe just because your favorite retailer sells it. Instead, you must do your research, consider the quality, and follow these tips for safer toy buying.
Tip #1: Avoid Toys with Small Parts
Toys for smaller children cannot contain any small balls or components that they can easily fit in their mouth. In fact, the guidelines recommend that you do not give children under the age of 5 any toy that is not three times the size of their mouth.
When giving toys with smaller parts to older children, consider their younger siblings. If they have younger siblings that might get ahold of the toy, it could be best to opt for something safer to have inside your home.
Tip #2: Magnet Safety
Magnets and high-powered magnet sets are highly dangerous. Even if they are marketed for children, they should be avoided at all costs. When a child swallows two or more magnets, the magnets can move throughout the child’s intestinal system – causing severe internal organ damage.
Tip #3: Special Needs Children
When buying toys for children with special needs, remember that you want toys that appeal to the various senses, like movement, texture, and sound. Also, make sure that the toy does not easily overwhelm the child. Some children cannot handle too much stimulation at one time.
Tip #4: Provide Safety Equipment
Any time you purchase sports equipment or ride-on equipment, such as a bike, you want to include the safety equipment or ensure that the parents have proper safety equipment at home. An example would be providing a helmet alongside a bicycle as a gift.
Tip #5: Be Aware of Lead
Lead finds its way into children’s toys, especially those toys manufactured overseas.
Educate yourself about the exposure risks and what possible symptoms your child might exhibit if they have lead poisoning. Also, review the list of recalls ensuring your child’s toy was not recalled for lead poisoning.
If you suspect that your child has been exposed to lead, contact his or her physician immediately.
Tip #6: ASTM Labels
Look for labels that let you know the toys have passed all necessary safety inspections, such as ASTM labels. This means that the toy has met the American Society for Testing and Materials.
Independent agencies, like the Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL), is also an essential certification for children’s toys.
Tip #7: Non-Toxic Labels
Any time you purchase crayons, markers or other art supplies for small children be sure that the label reads “non-toxic.”
This includes any modeling clay or playdough products. Avoid off-label brands you find at dollar stores, because many of these products end up being recalled for containing harmful toxins, such as arsenic.
Tip #8: Take Care of Packaging
Sometimes it has nothing to do with the toy: instead, it is the packaging. Toys often come in various layers of plastic and have small plastic clips holding components into place for shipping purposes.
These parts should be discarded after the product is opened.
Also, if any of the toys you purchase require batteries or need to be charged, make sure an adult handles the charging.
Tip #8: Consider Quality, Not Budget
While you might be on a budget, buying a high quality smaller toy over a poorly made big toy is best.
Cheap toys are introduced into the market all the time; and these toys may have small components that can break away, cheap plastic that can cause cuts, and chemicals that are not safe.
Tip #9: Make sure the Child Knows How to Use the Toy
Most importantly, realize that even the safest toy can be a severe safety hazard. Always ensure your child knows how to use the toy they have received properly – and read the user manual with your child.
Tip #10: No Strings or Cords
Toys that have strings or cords longer than 7 inches should be discarded or have the cable removed. They are a strangulation hazard for smaller children. Also, mobiles should be removed from cribs once children are old enough to stand up and reach for the objects on the device.
What if a Defective Toy Injures My Child?
If a defective toy injures you or your child, you have the right to hold manufacturers accountable for their products. In these types of accidents, the injury would fall under product liability. In a product liability lawsuit, the manufacturer, retailer, and even the distributor could be held liable for the injuries your child suffers.
To see if you have a valid case, speak with an attorney from Jacobs Law, LLC.