CHICAGO — Holiday shopping is already in full swing with most stores and online retailers. And, the National Retail Federation forecasts sales in November and December to increase 4.1 percent from last year to $616.9 billion. To help consumers, Prevent Blindness, the nation’s oldest non-profit eye health and safety group, is providing tips to gift-givers to make sure all gifts are safe, especially those intended for children.
In 2012, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimated that hospital emergency rooms across the country treated 265,000 toy-related injuries. And, 72 percent of those injuries were to children younger than 15. In fact, approximately 89,500 were to those younger than 5.
The most commonly injured part of the body is the head and face area, with the most common injuries being lacerations, contusions or abrasions. The top three specifically identified toys that were associated with the most estimated injuries for all ages in 2012 were non-motorized scooters, toy balls and toy vehicles.
Before purchasing a toy or gift, Prevent Blindness suggests the following:
• Read all warnings and instructions on the box.
• Ask yourself or the parent if the toy is right for the child’s ability and age. Consider whether other smaller children may be in the home who may have access to the toy.
• Avoid purchasing toys with sharp or rigid points, spikes, rods or dangerous edges.
• Check the lenses and frames of children’s sunglasses; many can break and cause injuries.
• Buy toys that will withstand impact and not break into dangerous shards.
• Look for the letters “ASTM.” This designation means the product meets the national safety standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).
• Avoid toys that shoot or include parts that fly off.
• Gifts of sports equipment should always be accompanied by protective gear (such as a basketball along with eye goggles or a face guard with a new batting helmet for baseball or softball).
• Don’t give toys with small parts to young children. Young kids tend to put things in their mouths, increasing the risk of choking. If any part of a toy can fit in a toilet paper roll, the toy is not appropriate for children younger than 3.
• Do not purchase toys with long strings or cords, especially for infants and very young children, as these can become wrapped around a child’s neck.
• Always dispose of uninflated or broken balloons immediately. According to the CPSC, more children have suffocated from them than any other type of toy.
• Ensure that laser product labels include a statement that the device complies with 21 CFR (the Code of Federal Regulations) Subchapter J (per an American Academy of Ophthalmology recommendation).
“The holidays can get hectic, but we need to be diligent when purchasing gifts, especially for children, making sure they are safe and fit each individual child’s needs,” said Hugh R. Parry, president and CEO of Prevent Blindness. “By taking a few precautions, we can spend time with our family and friends and not in the emergency room!”
For more about safe toys and gifts for children, visit preventblindness.org/safe-toy-checklist, or call Prevent Blindness at (800) 331-2020.
Posted Nov. 26, 2014