(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is one in a series of articles about winter safety preparations.)
Many of us will be shopping for children during the Christmas season, and that can introduce special dangers — not just from the possibility of being trampled in the toy aisle, either.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, it’s important for the child’s safety to make sure that we are buying the right toy for the right child.
Toys should be age appropriate, according to the CPSC:
• Children under 3 tend to put everything in their mouths. Avoid buying toys intended for older children which may have small parts that pose a choking danger.
• Never let children of any age play with uninflated or broken balloons because of the choking danger.
• Avoid marbles, balls, and games with balls, that have a diameter of 1.75 inches or less. These products also pose a choking hazard to young children.
• Young children pull, prod and twist toys. Look for toys that are well-made with tightly secured eyes, noses and other parts.
• Avoid toys that have sharp edges and points.
The construction of a toy can also make a difference between whether it is safe or not:
• Avoid toys that are constructed with thin, brittle plastic that might easily break into small pieces or leave jagged edges.
• Look for household art materials, including crayons and paint sets, marked with the designation “ASTM D-4236.” This means the product has been reviewed by a toxicologist and, if necessary, labeled with cautionary information.
When the toy comes into your home, remember that a toy that starts out safe may not stay that way:
• Adults should check toys periodically for breakage and potential hazards. Damaged or dangerous toys should be repaired or thrown away.
• If buying a toy gun, be sure the barrel, or the entire gun, is brightly colored so that it’s not mistaken for a real gun.
• If you buy a bicycle for any age child, buy a helmet too, and make sure the child wears it.
And, when all else fails, read the instructions.
According to information from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, it “requires toy manufacturers to meet stringent safety standards and to label certain toys that could be a hazard for younger children. Look for labels that give age recommendations and use that information as a guide. Labels on toys that state ‘not recommended for children under three ... contains small parts,’ are labeled that way because they may pose a choking hazard to children under three. Toys should be developmentally appropriate to suit the skills, abilities and interests of the child.”