Safe Toys And Gifts For Children
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) wants to emphasize the importance of safety when purchasing and playing with toys for kids – even for older children. According to CPSC’s report on Toy-Related Deaths and Injuries, there were 11 deaths and around 145,500 emergency department-treated (ED) injuries in 2022 associated with toys for children aged 12 and below. Therefore, parents should exercise extra caution when selecting gifts for their children. Pellet shooters, wall dart sets, slingshots bow/arrows, and other projectile-launching toys. Approximately 50% of those incidents were injuries to the head, and most of these injuries happen to children under age 15. Parents must be proactive and mindful of the safety of any gift they give a child. The American Academy of Ophthalmology urges parents to avoid buying toys that can cause serious eye injuries, even blindness.
December 2023 is the month of “Safe Toys and Celebration Gifts”. Children eagerly await this time of year to receive gifts and toys. However, it is crucial to note that one in ten children experiences an eye injury and requires emergency care. The American Academy of Ophthalmology advises parents to remain vigilant when selecting holiday gifts for their children. They also suggest avoiding toys that launch projectiles like crossbows and BB guns. Parents must consider the safety and age-appropriateness of the toy before purchasing it. Every year, thousands of children get injured or even lose their lives due to playing with unsafe or unsuitable toys. About 10% of children’s eye injuries that require an ER visit are caused by toys.
Per CPSC recommendations, consumers should not only prioritize the safety of the products they buy for children but also be cautious about where they purchase gifts, particularly when shopping online. With the steady increase in e-commerce sales during the holiday season, Chair Hoehn-Saric is urging consumers to exercise caution when relying on online retail outlets.PSC, in collaboration with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), seized more than 1.1 million dangerous or illegal toys in fiscal year 2023. Of those, nearly 101,000 toy seizures were lead-related.
CPSC Recommends Following Tips When Purchasing Products Online (Source: CPSC)
- Remember that when buying gifts online you could be purchasing directly from a manufacturer, or going through a retailer, or a third-party seller. In each instance, if you have a problem with a product or want to return or exchange it where you purchased the product matters. Look for the “sold by” information when purchasing from an online marketplace.
- Do more than skim product descriptions. Always read to the bottom of the listing or check drop-down menus for additional safety information, especially when shopping for children. Also, read customer reviews to see what other consumers have experienced with the product.
- Look for a certification mark on toys from an independent testing organization on the manufacturer’s label.
- If purchasing second-hand products from an online marketplace, check to see whether products have been recalled before you buy by going to CPSC.gov/recalls.
- Buy from reputable dealers and if the price seems too good to be true, this can be a sign that the product is not authentic or original, and may be unsafe.
AAO Eye Health Holiday Guide to Children’s Gift-Giving (Source AAO)
- Avoid purchasing toys with sharp, protruding, or projectile parts that can cause eye injuries, such as BB guns, hard and foam pellet shooters, wall dart sets, slingshots bow/arrows, and other projectile-launching toys.
- Toy laser products – In 2013, the Food and Drug Administration issued a new rule — 21 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 1040.10 and 1040.11) — to define and require children’s toy “Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation” (LASER) products to be within International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) Class 1 emission limits. With no federal regulations developed for what constitutes children’s toy laser products, this 2013 FDA rule equips parents with a decision-making safety guide in choosing minimal-risk toy laser products where levels of radiation and light do not exceed the limits for Class 1 emission, the IEC’s lowest level in regulated products. (FDA Reference: Laser Toys: How to Keep Kids Safe)
- Purchase recommended protective eyewear as part of the gift. Safety goggles, polycarbonate lenses, and impact-resistant shooting glasses have preserved the eyesight of countless children and adults who play sports that carry a higher risk for eye injuries.
- Focus on outdoor-inspired gifts, Snow gear, roller skates/blades, a safety-netted trampoline, binoculars, or the classic bicycle all encourage healthy outdoor play and pose significantly lower risk for eye-related injuries. Parents are encouraged to reference AAO’s list of common toys that pose a higher risk of causing traumatic eye injuries.
- Think screen-free gifts for kids to avoid excessive screen time that is associated with eye strain. Reference the AAO’s Computers, Digital Devices, and Eye Strain page to learn more.
Tips To Gift Giving:
The Prevent Blindness and PublicHealthMAPS.org organizations provide tips to gift-givers to make sure gifts are safe, especially those intended for children. Before purchasing a toy or gift, they suggest:
- Avoid purchasing toys with sharp or rigid points, spikes, rods, or dangerous edges
- Ask yourself or the parent if the toy is right for the child’s ability and age
- Consider whether other smaller children may be in the home that may have access to the toy
- Check the lenses and frames of children’s sunglasses; many can break and cause injuries
- Check labels for age recommendations and be sure to select gifts that are appropriate for a child’s age and maturity.
- Buy toys that will withstand impact and not break into dangerous shards
- Read all warnings and instructions on the box
- Look for the letters “ASTM.” This designation means the product meets the national safety standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials
- Avoid toys that shoot or include parts that fly off
- If you give a gift of sports equipment, also give the appropriate protective eyewear with polycarbonate lenses. Check with your ophthalmologist to learn about protective gear recommended for your child’s sport
- Gifts of sports equipment should always be accompanied by protective gear (such as a basketball along with eye goggles or a faceguard with a new batting helmet for baseball or softball)
- Don’t give toys with small parts to young children. Young kids tend to put things in their mouths, increasing the risk of choking
- Do not purchase toys with long strings or cords, especially for infants and very young children as these can become wrapped around a child’s neck;
- Always dispose of uninflated or broken balloons immediately. According to the CPSC, more children have suffocated from them than any other type of toy
- Ensure that laser product labels include a statement that the device complies with 21 CFR (the Code of Federal Regulations) Subchapter J (per an American Academy of Ophthalmology recommendation)
Things To Consider To Enhance Child Safety
Eliminate danger and potential harm to your child (Source: https://nationaltoday.com/safe-toys-and-gifts-month/):
- Inspect toys before purchasing
- Look for sharp points, edges, and parts that can fly off.
- Check for durability should a child attempt to break, crush, or pull toys apart.
- Do not give toys with ropes, cords, or heating elements
- Make sure crayons and markers are labeled “nontoxic.”
- It is important to NEVER give small toys with removable magnets or “button” batteries. These can cause serious injury or even death if ingested.
- Make sure the toy is age-appropriate
- You must keep in mind that not every toy is meant for every child.
- Keep in mind the child’s age and development level (most toys offer an age range for guidance).
- If shopping for infants and children with special needs, look for toys that appeal to the senses (sound, light, movement, texture, etc.)
- Remember the rule: If the piece can fit in a toilet paper roll, it is not meant for children under 3 years of age.
- Spread the word. Even the best parents can get it wrong.
- It’s crucial to share your knowledge about unsafe toys with fellow parents, grandparents, babysitters, etc.
Why Safe Toys Are Important (Source: PublicHealthMAPS.org)
- It alerts us to choking hazards
- Choking is a major risk for children when playing with toys — specifically when they’re under 3 years old. Let’s thoroughly inspect the level of choking risk for each toy we give.
- Many toy manufacturers have put child safety first. However, adult supervision is the best way to manage and reduce risk
- Employees, buyers, and managers must make sure that the toys have an American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) label. This means that the toy has met national safety standards.
- The corks in champagne bottles can release at almost 50 mph, and the force can be strong enough to cause major damage to the eye.
- Aim the bottle away from your own or others’ eyes to avoid injury.
- Fireworks are not common during the Holiday Season and Christmas. However, it is important to practice safe fireworks protocols.
If you experience any eye injuries during this joyful time contact us immediately so that we can give you, your child, or your family member the care they need.
We wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.