According to new data from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), toy-related injuries among children are on the rise. Last year, there were an estimated 186,000 emergency room visits related to toys with children younger than 15, which is up from 152,000 injuries in 2005.
Choking hazards and riding toys such as non-powered scooters remain the two greatest culprits in toy-related injuries and deaths, says Purnima Unni, Pediatric Trauma Injury Prevention Program coordinator for the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt’s Pediatric Trauma Program.
“Usually injuries occur when a toy is misused or used by children who are too young for that particular toy,” says Unni. “Understanding the dangers associated with certain toys and age groups can help better protect your child or grandchild from toy injuries.”
Unni says parents should always purchase helmets and other appropriate safety gear for toys such as scooters, bikes, skateboards and inline skates. Supervising your child’s play, in addition to following the recommendations made by toy manufacturers, could save lives.
Since choking is such a big risk among smaller children, she says, consider buying a small-parts tester, also known as a “choke tube.” These tubes are designed to be about the same diameter as a child’s windpipe. If an object fits inside the tube, then it’s too small for a young child.
Additional choking hazard precautions:
• Avoid marbles and balls with a diameter of less than 1.75 inches (4.4 centimeters).
• Avoid toys with cords or strings longer than 7 inches.
• Purchase Mylar balloons instead of latex, and never allow children to inflate or deflate balloons.
Below is a list of other items to avoid this shopping season:
• Magnets – For children under age 6, avoid building sets with small magnets. If swallowed, serious injuries or death could occur.
• Projectile Toys – Projectile toys such as air rockets, darts and slingshots are for older children. Improper use of these toys can result in serious eye injuries.
• Chargers and Adapters – Charging batteries should always be supervised by adults. Battery chargers and adapters can pose thermal burn hazards to children.
• BB guns – BB guns should not be considered toys. Children require proper safety training for BB gun use.
The CPSC recalls numerous toys and children’s products each year. Visit their website <http://www.recalls.gov/> for an archive of old recalls and to sign up to receive e-mail alerts of new recalls. In addition, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group has just released its 25th annual toy safety report, which provides a detailed list of this year’s most dangerous toys. Click here <http://www.uspirg.org/toysafety-2010> to view the report.
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Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt
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