Choosing the proper toy can keep holidays merry

Kosair's Childrens Hospital offers tips for shoppers

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| Source: Kosair Children's Hospital

LOUISVILLE, KY., Nov. 25, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- It's easy to get caught up in the advertising and hype of the holidays. But as you prepare your shopping list for the children in your life, be sure that the toys you plan to give are appropriate and safe. Toys and games provide many opportunities for children to learn and grow physically, mentally and socially. However, toys and games that are not age-appropriate or not used properly can cause serious injury or even death.

An estimated 265,000 toy-related injuries were seen in hospital emergency departments in 2012, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Of those, an estimated 69 percent involved children age 12 and younger. For this age group, nonmotorized scooters or riding toys were associated with the most injuries.

"Riding toys, while safe in the proper environment, such as a sidewalk and under adult supervision, are incredibly dangerous when used around stairs, traffic or swimming pools," said Erika Janes, R.N., coordinator of Safe Kids Louisville, led by the Children's Hospital Foundation Office of Child Advocacy of Kosair Children's Hospital.

In fact, of the 11 toy-related fatalities to children younger than age 15 in the U.S. in 2012, seven were associated with riding toys and involved drowning, injuries due to a fall or motor vehicles.

Other ways to avoid injury include ensuring the toys you purchase are age appropriate.

"Younger children can get frustrated by playing with toys and games that are not suited to their physical or mental capabilities," Janes said. "The age guidelines found on packages really are helpful."

When purchasing toys and games for your child, remember they should be:

  • Appealing and interesting to the child
  • Suited to the child's physical abilities
  • Suited to the child's mental and social development
  • Well-constructed, durable and safe for the child's age

"Also remember that while a toy might be appropriate for one child in the household, it might not be appropriate for younger siblings," Janes said. "Toys with small parts, for example, are popular for kids over age 5 but can pose a great choking danger for those under age 3."
An additional concern is the increased use of button batteries in toys, electronics and household items. "These batteries not only pose a choking hazard, but if swallowed they can erode the lining of internal organs – without any initial sign or symptoms," Janes said. "If you think your child has swallowed a battery, you should make an immediate trip to the emergency room for X-rays and evaluation."

In general, most toys and games on the market today are safe. However, manufacturer safety standards are voluntary, and you can never be completely sure they are being followed. Injuries can still occur despite government regulations and toy makers' best efforts to test products.

"Whatever toy you purchase, be sure that children are using it properly and with the necessary adult supervision," Janes said.

Maggie Roetker, (502) 629-5272