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National Safe Toys And Gifts Month

The month of December is National Safe Toys And Gifts Month. It is intended to promote awareness of the dangers that most of us take for granted when buying toys, giving them as gifts, and playing with them. It is estimated that most toy related injuries happen with children 15 years old and younger, especially babies and toddlers who will put almost anything in their mouths.

Children love toys and we all love buying toys for them. Most toys are inherently safe but even the safest of toys can be dangerous and pose serious health risks if not properly designed, built, or used for their intended purposes.

Every year, thousands upon thousands of injuries are reported and children of all ages end up in hospital emergency rooms. They range in severity from simple cuts and scrapes to life threatening injuries that require hospitalization. Toy related mishaps include choking, brain trauma, loss of sight, broken bones, deep cuts, burns, loss of limbs, paralysis, and in many cases, death.

Some toys are made with hazardous chemicals such as lead based paint, mercury, arsenic, formaldehyde, and plastics. Although the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) enforces strict rules and regulations covering the use of chemicals and other toxic materials used in the making of toys, the agency cannot guarantee that all toys are 100% safe.

Added to that, many toys are imported from countries that simply don't have, or don't enforce, the same tough standards that are prevalent in the United States. The CPSC is always on the lookout for such toys but some make it into the country undetected.

When buying toys, there are some things that you can do to lessen the risks of safety hazards.

(1) First and foremost, try to buy toys that are of quality design and construction. Even so, examine all toys before letting a child play with them.

(2) Follow manufacturers safety recommendations that are listed on the product.

(3) For small children, avoid buying toys with small parts that can be swallowed or get lodged in the throat. This included toys with thin, brittle plastic that can be broken or bitten off. Balloons and small magnets are especially dangerous.

(4) Make sure that toys have strings, ropes, straps, cords or wires no longer than 5 to 7 inches and cannot be wrapped around the child's neck or body.

(5) Avoid letting children play with toys that have sharp points or jagged edged. Darts, bows and arrows, pellet guns, firearms and anything that shoots projectiles are not safe for children to play with.

(6) Never let a child play with fireworks or anything that might explode, burst into flames, or spew acid. Children should not be allowed to handle or play with battery chargers or anything that may be flammable.

(7) Safety gear is a must when a child is riding a bicycle, tricycle, skateboard, roller skates, scoters, or any toy that they can fall off of and get hurt. Helmets, knee pads, goggles, and other safety products are recommended with certain toys and some are required by law.

(8) If you leave your child with relatives or friends, make sure that they are aware of safety standards that you provide for the child and that they are not reckless with your child's safety and health.

(9) Toys should be chosen to fit the child's age, size, skill level, developmental progression, and the child's ability to interact and play with other children.

(10) Check the labels on crayons, markers, pens, inks, glues, and other materials to make sure that they are not toxic.

Once toys are opens and assembled, any plastic wrappings and packaging should be discarded immediately. Children should never be allowed to play with plastic, cellophane or other materials that are used to wrap toys.

Children should be supervised at all times, even in the comfort and safety of your home. Most accidents occur inside or in the yard space of homes where the child lives.

For more information about purchasing safe toys and gifts, call the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Hot Line at (800) 638-2772.

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