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Toy safety reminders this holiday season

Kids love receiving toys for Christmas, and for many adults, it's just as much fun to give them. While we all want the kids in our lives to have fun, it is even more important to make sure they are safe. In most cases, the packaging on toys will give clues to whether or not toys are age appropriate, but the capabilities of an individual child should be considered as well. Many toy packages specifically state that they are not for children under age three. Often this is because they present a potential choking hazard. This isn't only because younger children like to put things in their mouths, but also because the upper airways are smaller in babies and toddlers.

Ensuring a safe ride

Despite there being safety regulations in place for toys that are manufactured in the U.S. or imported into the States, data from the National SAFE KIDS Campaign and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission shows that roughly 217,000 children are sent to emergency rooms each year due to a toy related injury. Riding toys are frequently the toy involved. Gifts of riding toys are popular, but should be appropriate for a child's size and balance capabilities. Appropriate safety equipment, such a helmet and safety pads should be used as well.

Double check surfaces

Children can be hurt just by touching toys or if they put the toy in their mouth. Because of this, it's important to make sure the surfaces are safe. Any paint that is used should be free of lead, and any dyes, paints, or plastics used should be clearly labeled as non-toxic. Be sure that toys for young children are not easily breakable, and those for very young kids are shatterproof. They should also be examined to make sure they won't lead to scrapes or splinters.

Soft toys

Soft toys may seem like they are safe, but these too can pose dangers. Young infants should not sleep with stuffed animals in their cribs, and as they get older their play should be closely supervised because of the potential for suffocation. This is true for other fabric toys as well, including soft books. They should also be washable, and clearly labeled as flame retardant or flame resistant.

Electric toys

Monitor electronic toys for safety. In the beginning, these should be labeled UL Approved. Make sure any batteries, screws and other small parts cannot be dislodged and risk choking or shock. Beware of the volume level of toys that talk and sing, and they should be activated by buttons or levers rather than strings.

Art toys

Art supplies make great gifts, but it is important that these are safe as well. To begin with, they should be labeled non-toxic, in addition, paints and crayons should have the label ASTM D-4236, which indicates that they have been evaluated by the American Society for Testing and Materials.

Keep an eye out for toy recalls

Any product that is manufactured or distributed has the potential for recall. It is important to watch out for potential recalls for your children's toys. Registering products increases the chance that you will be informed of a recall, and you can also check the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission website to see if they have been recalled. Since 1995, it has been required that toys made in or imported into the U.S. comply with these standards.

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