The Norman Transcript

December 14, 2013

Unwrap the gift of toy safety

For The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — That toy may look cute and cuddly or cool and captivating but The Children’s Hospital at OU Medical Center is urging parents to inspect toys carefully before they buy this holiday season.

The biggest threat to the health of children older than 1 is not a dreaded disease. It’s accidental injury. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, each year thousands of children suffer injuries from toys severe enough to be treated in a hospital emergency room.

“Sometimes parents just assume toys are safe, but we’ve got to keep our eyes out and our thinking caps on when it comes to gift buying. A safe-appearing toy can be dangerous if it’s in the wrong hands, age-inappropriate or used improperly,” said Jennifer Parrott, emergency room nurse practitioner at The Children’s Hospital at OU Medical Center.

Your challenge is to find toys that your children will enjoy and that you know are safe.

The Children’s Hospital at OU Medical Center in Oklahoma City recommends these Consumer Product Safety Commission tips that can help keep the holiday season safe for your youngsters:

• Avoid toys that shoot or have parts that fly off.

• Choose toys made of durable materials with no sharp edges or points.

• Don’t give young children toys with small parts. Youngsters tend to put things in their mouths, increasing the risk of choking.

• Choose age-appropriate toys. Age labeling is provided for developmental and safety reasons.

• Select toys to suit a child’s abilities, skill and interest level.

• To avoid serious ear injury, don’t buy toys that make loud or shrill noise.

•Choose well-made stuffed animals. The eyes, noses and other small parts should be fastened securely.

•Never buy hobby kits, such as chemistry sets, for children younger than age 12.

•Look for the letters ASTM, which indicate that a toy or product meets the national safety standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials.

Tips to avoid playtime mishaps:

•Explain and demonstrate how to use toys.

•Keep toys for older children away from younger ones.

•Discard packaging immediately. Sharp staples and plastic bags can cause injuries and pose safety hazards.

•Make sure children play in safe areas and, if appropriate, under supervision.

• Make a list of safety rules and share them with your children. If your youngsters are playing with friends, remind everyone of your safety rules.

• Inspect older toys for broken or sharp edges, loose parts, and loose strings or ribbons.