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Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt offers toy safety tips for the holiday shopping season

Nov. 20, 2012, 8:19 AM

As parents and relatives hit the stores this holiday season to acquire the hottest gadgets, gizmos and toys, Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbiltis offering tips on buying age-appropriate items and avoiding hidden dangers.

Sarah Haverstick, Safe Children program manager at Children’s Hospital, suggests that people consider a child’s age and skill level when selecting toys.

“Every toy should have an age recommendation on the packaging, and it’s important to follow these recommendations, especially for children under age 3,” Haverstick said.

Safety precautions parents can take to avoid toy-related injuries:

  • Look for quality construction.
  • Follow safety guidelines when playing with new toys.
  • Check toys regularly for broken parts, chipped paint or sharp edges.
  • Make sure all crayons, markers or other art supplies are labeled non-toxic.
  • Ride-on toys often result in the highest number of toy related injuries. Make sure your child has the proper protective equipment. Always wear a helmet.

Haverstick says choking is one of the main causes of toy-related injuries and deaths. Toys with small parts should be kept away from young children, and parents should supervise while children are playing.

Parents can test toys for choking hazards with a cardboard tube from a toilet paper roll, which is the same diameter as a child’s windpipe. If an object fits inside the tube, then it’s too small for a young child.

Additional choking hazard precautions:

  • Avoid marbles and balls with a diameter of less than 1.75 inches (4.4 centimeters).
  • Avoid toys with cords or strings longer than 7 inches.
  • Purchase Mylar balloons instead of latex, and never allow children to inflate or deflate balloons.

Other items to avoid this shopping season:

  • Button Batteries — Found in remote controls, watches, key chains and musical greeting cards, these small, coin-sized batteries can become lodged in a child’s esophagus and can cause significant problems within just a few hours after they are swallowed.
  • Magnets — For children under age 6, avoid building sets with small magnets. If swallowed, serious injuries or death could occur.
  • Projectile Toys — Projectile toys such as air rockets, darts and slingshots are for older children. Improper use of these toys can result in serious eye injuries.
  • Chargers and Adapters — Charging batteries should always be supervised by adults. Battery chargers and adapters can pose thermal burn hazards to children.
  • BB guns — BB guns should not be considered toys. Children require proper safety training for BB gun use.

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