Understanding and Avoiding Toy Safety Hazards

Toy Safety 1There’s nothing more memorable than watching the delight and surprise on a child’s face when a new toy is unwrapped for a holiday celebration. However, if that gift doesn’t suit the age and ability level of the recipient, it could result in a potential toy safety hazard for the child.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were an estimated 251,700 toy-related injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments in 2017. The top three specifically identified toys that were associated with the most estimated injuries for all ages in 2017 were nonmotorized scooters, toy balls, and toy vehicles.

[Source: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Report, “Toy-Related Deaths and Injuries/Calendar Year 2017”]

Because so many gifts are given in December for Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, this month is designated as Safe Toys and Gifts Month by Prevent Blindness America.

Toy Safety 2

The organization urges adults to be mindful of several guidelines when purchasing toys for children, especially for infants and children under three years of age:

  • Avoid choosing toys that shoot or have parts that fly off
  • Avoid choosing toys with sharp edges or that break easily
  • When purchasing toys for children with special needs, consult the “AblePlay” website for ideas: http://www.ableplay.org/
  • Inspect toys that your child receives; don’t allow children to play with any that you deem to be potentially hazardous
  • Check for the ATSM label, which signifies that the toy has passed safety inspection standards established by the American Society for Testing and Materials
  • Learn about lead exposure from toys and know the symptoms of lead poisoning
  • Do not give toys with small parts, such as small magnets or button-size batteries. Rule of thumb: If a piece can fit inside a toilet paper roll, it is not suitable for children under age three.
  • Do not give toys with ropes, cords or heating elements
  • Purchase nontoxic crayons and markers
  • Visit preventblindness.org/children/safetoys.html for more information

While no parent plans to spend holiday time in the hospital with a sick child, the Bon Secours St. Mary’s Pediatric Emergency Department is prepared to help Central Virginia families with everything from injuries to infections, whether toy-related or not. All of the doctors in the Pediatric ED are board-certified in pediatric emergency medicine and the staff is specially trained to deliver exceptional kid-focused care.

Frank Petruzella, M.D., medical director of the St. Mary’s Pediatric ED, added that the team includes a certified child life specialist who assists with age-appropriate coping and distraction techniques to reduce the stress of an unexpected emergency department visit on the child.

Some examples include colorful butterflies flitting along the waiting room wall from a ceiling-mounted projector, bubbles blowing around the room where vital signs are taken and allowing kids to select a favorite movie to watch while waiting to take tests or get results. There’s even an innovative mobile sensory cart packed with an assortment of tactile, auditory, olfactory and visual tools designed for pediatric patients with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

“Everyone at the St. Mary’s Pediatric ED has the same goal, which is to treat each patient with the same respect and compassion that we would want our own children to be treated when they need emergency care,” said Dr. Petruzella. “We hope everyone has a happy, healthy and safe holiday season.”