Tips For Playing It Safe This Holiday Season

Armen Hareyan's picture
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As the holiday season kicks into full gear, parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles will be scouring toy stores for the perfect gifts for the children in their lives. With the recent wave of toy recalls--including some of the most trusted brand names in the toy world--buyers may be wondering how to make safe choices, but lead-related worries are only one issue in toy buying.

According to data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 20 children under the age of 15 died of toy-related injuries during 2005. Half of all fatalities involved choking or asphyxiation related to small toys or pieces that broke off from toys. "When shopping for children under age 3, avoid toys with small parts, which can cause choking," advises Dr. Edward Barskdale, Division Chief of Pediatric Surgery at Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital. Shoppers should read labels carefully and heed age recommendations: if a toy is labeled 'not recommended for children under age three,' parents need to take that warning seriously. "You may think your two-year-old is more advanced than the average child," notes Kathryn Wesolowski, Manager of the Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital Injury Prevention Center, "but even the brightest babies and toddlers explore by placing things in their mouths. Thinking that your child is the exception to the rule can lead to tragedy."

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Of the 202,300 children who were treated in U.S. emergency rooms for toy-related injuries during 2005, more than 1 in 3 cases involved children under the age of 5. Riding toys (including unpowered scooters) were associated with 58,400 injuries--more than any other toy category. "Bikes, in-line skates, sleds, skateboards, and scooters are popular holiday gifts," says Dr. Gregg DiGiulio, Division Chief of Pediatric Emergency Medicine at Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital, "but the gift isn't complete unless it includes protective gear. Helmets can reduce the risk of head injury by as much as 85 percent and the risk of brain injury by as much as 88 percent."

As you do your toy buying for this Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa season, remember these key tips:

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