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Shop safely this holiday season
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TOPEKA — A shopping cart may not seem dangerous, but more than 20,000 children under 5 years old suffered cart injuries each year, according to Safe Kids Kansas.

With holiday shopping in mind, the non-profit coalition has safety tips for avoiding cart injuries and for selecting safe toys.

Falls are the most common cause of shopping-cart related injury in children of the 5-and-under age group, accounting for 83 percent of all injuries. Tip-overs and children colliding with the shopping cart are other causes of injury.

To avoid shopping-cart injuries, never leave a child unattended in a shopping cart and stay close to the cart at all times. Safe Kids Kansas recommends always using a harness or safety belt provided when placing a child in the shopping cart seat, and do not let the child ride in the cart basket, under the basket, or on the sides or front of the cart. Use the shopping carts that have a wheeled child carrier that is permanently attached and made part of the shopping cart. Some of these models look like cars or benches attached to the shopping cart. Never place your own infant carrier on top of a shopping cart.

Selecting Toys

Parents and caregivers can make sure they’re choosing safe toys for their children by paying close attention to warning labels and manufacturer’s guidelines.

"More than 3 billion toys and games are sold in the United States every year, and most of them are very safe. Warning labels and manufacturers’ instructions tell you how to use the product safely," says Cherie Sage, state director of Safe Kids Kansas. "If the manufacturer sets a minimum age or other restrictions, there’s a reason. For example, a label reading ‘not appropriate for children under 3’ may be present because the toy poses a choking hazard, not because it’s too difficult for a 2-year-old."

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), in 2009, there were an estimated 186,000 emergency room-treated injuries related to toys with children younger than age 15. This is an increase from the 152,000 injuries reported in 2005. However, toy-related fatalities have decreased; 12 deaths to children under age 15, down from 24 toy-related fatalities in 2007 and 2008.

"If you buy toys secondhand or get hand-me-downs, visit to make sure the toy hasn’t been recalled for safety reasons," says Sage. Sign up for e-mail alerts to keep up-to-date on toy recalls beyond the holiday itself. If a new toy comes with a product registration card, mail it in right away so the manufacturer can contact you if the item is ever recalled. To sign up for recall e-mails, go to and click on "Sign Up for Safety News and RecallE-mails."

Don’t hesitate to report defects or design features that seem dangerous. "If your child has a close call, the next child might not be so lucky," says Sage. "Report safety concerns about toys to the Consumer Product Safety Commission at 800-638-2772 or Your experience could be part of a pattern that might lead to a recall."

Safe Kids Kansas also recommends:

• Make sure to buy age-appropriate toys. All toys are clearly marked if they have small parts; do not buy toys with small parts for children younger than age three (or allow a child under age three to play with those kinds of toys belonging to an older sibling). Also, avoid building sets with small magnets for children under age six. These magnets are dangerous if swallowed.

• Identify dangerous small parts. To be sure of a toy’s size, use a small parts tester or the cardboard tube from a roll of toilet paper to identify choking hazards. Do not let small children play with anything that can fit into one of these cylinders.

• Keep batteries out of sight and out of reach. Lithium button batteries can easily be swallowed by children and can come from many devices, such as remote controls. Other places you may them are: singing greeting cards, watches, bathroom scales, and flameless candles. If a child swallows a battery, go to the emergency room immediately. Tell doctors and nurses that your child may have swallowed a battery. Do not let the child eat or drink until a chest X-ray can determine if a battery is present. Do not induce vomiting. Call the National Battery Ingestion Hotline at 202-625-3333 for additional treatment information.

• Buy the proper safety gear. Riding toys account for the greatest number of toy-related injuries. If you purchase a riding toy, such as a scooter, skateboard, in-line skates or bicycle, remember that the gift isn’t complete without a helmet and appropriate protective gear.

• Inspect toys to make sure they are in good repair. Check children’s play areas for missing or dislodged parts. Do not let young children play with toys that have straps, cords or strings longer than seven inches, due to the risk of strangulation.

• Actively supervise children. Caregivers should actively supervise children playing with any toy that has small parts, moving parts, electrical or battery power, cords, wheels or any other potentially risky component. Simply being in the same room as your child is not necessarily supervising. Active supervision means keeping the child in sight and in reach and paying undivided attention.

• Practice proper storage. Teach children to put toys away after playing to help prevent falls and unsupervised play, and make sure toys intended for younger children are stored separately from those for older children.

For more information on the Internet, visit and on Facebook.

Safe Kids Kansas, Inc. is a nonprofit Coalition of over 70 statewide organizations and businesses dedicated to preventing accidental injuries to Kansas children ages 0-14. Local coalitions and chapters cover Allen, Butler, Clay, Cowley, Dickinson, Doniphan, Douglas, Elk, Ellis, Finney, Geary, Harvey, Johnson, Kiowa, Labette, Leavenworth, Marion, Marshall, McPherson, Meade, Mitchell, Montgomery, Pottawatomie, Riley, Saline, Sedgwick, Shawnee, Smith, and Sumner counties, as well as the city of Emporia and the Metro Kansas City Area (Wyandotte county and several Missouri counties.) Safe Kids Kansas is a member of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of organizations whose mission is to prevent accidental childhood injury. The lead agency for Safe Kids Kansas is the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.