Transcript - Toy Safety

500 children a day are admitted to emergency rooms because of toy-related injuries. Cuts. Bruises. Choking. Strangulation. And death. It’s hard to believe that these injuries have arisen as a result of unsafe toys. The United States Public Interest Research Group has been identifying unsafe toys for the past 28 years. They’ve compiled 12 tips to help choose the safest toy for a child.

Tip # 1. Bigger is Better. What’s the first thing a small child does with a toy? Puts it in his mouth! Child safety experts recommend eliminating choking hazards by not buying toys that are small enough to fit through a toilet paper roll.

We sat down with Cathy Hogan, Coordinator of Injury prevention at SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center in St. Lois Missouri, to discuss toy safety and how to prevent injuries.

“Choking hazards are are um a really big issue and we say well how do we know if I choking hazard something that everybody has in their house is an empty toilet paper roller and I tell people to go shopping for toys especially when their not used to buying toys for children of that age with a toilet paper roller, if the toy fits through the toilet paper roller its too small for a child that’s uh a toddler aged child, a 3 or 4 year old age child because its uh it can be uh a choking hazard.”

Tip # 2. Never give young children small balls or balloons. Avoid balls and other spherical toys smaller than 1.75 inches in diameter, or a little bit larger than a golf ball, for children under 6. Small balls, balloons and pieces of broken balloons are particularly dangerous, as they can completely block a child’s airway.

Tip # 3. Read and heed warning labels. Make sure toys are age-appropriate by checking the label before buying.

“The package is made for children 18 months and older is because it’s not safe for a 14-month old child and people have a tendency to say oh they’ll grow into it. Well not really, they are tested for specific age groups of children and those those package those age package, on the packing that that’s a specific that’s almost like a warning um so you really have to be attentive to what it says its there and then the caveat to that is not only do you have to be attentive to that but but also have to pay attention to the age range of children that you have in your house.”

Tip # 4. Avoid toys that contain PVC plastic. Toys made of PVC plastic can contain toxic phthalates that pose developmental hazards for children. Choose unpainted wooden or cloth toys instead.

Tip # 5. Test toys, vinyl products, and costume jewelry for lead. Despite its known hazards, lead-based paints are often still used on toys and high levels of lead can be found in vinyl lunch boxes and bibs, even in children's costume jewelry. All lead should be removed from a child's environment. Use a home lead tester to help identify toys containing this heavy metal.

Tip # 6. Avoid toys containing powerful magnets. The powerful, small magnets used in most magnetic building toys, toy darts, magnetic jewelry, and other toys, which can look like shiny candy.

If a child swallows more than one magnet, the magnets can attract each other within the body and cause life-threatening complications.

“All of the sudden you’ve got a whole bunch of magnets in their belly and um with the magnets what happens with them is their not erosive like a uh like uh battery would be but they have a tendency for the pieces of the bowel to cause them to stick together and cause blockages so uh you look in and you see these x-rays with all these magnets in there and all this bowel is literally stuck together um so the games with the magnets are are are the are the building pieces with the magnets are a real big issue.”

Tip # 7. Watch out for “button” batteries. Small, round button batteries can be found in everything from watches and flashlights to remote controls and musical greeting cards. Keep "button" batteries away from children. If swallowed, the battery acid can cause fatal internal injuries.

Tip # 8. If it sounds too loud, it probably is. Children's ears are sensitive. If a toy seems too loud for your ears, it is probably too loud for a child. Electronic toys should be supervised and use an appropriate volume.

Tip # 9. Watch out for strings and cords. Remove knobs and beads from cords longer than one foot to prevent the cords from tangling into a dangerous loop. Clothing with drawstrings on the hood can get caught on fixed objects like playground equipment and pose a strangulation hazard.

Tip # 10. Outfit your kids for safety. Toys such as bicycles, scooters, skateboards and inline skates are safer when children wear protective gear.

Tip # 11. Stay informed of recalls, visit the US Consumer Product Safety Commission Website for recall information on new and vintage toys. There you can sign up to receive email alerts of new recalls and search an archive of old recalls.

Tip # 12. Report dangerous toys. If you think a toy or product is hazardous, contact the Commission and submit a report.

Most toys on the market are safe. But injuries still occur in spite of tough government regulations and efforts to test products. With help from The United States Public Interest Research Group, you can make safer toy decisions for your loved ones.

I'm Alexis Phillips for Legal News Network -- your source for safety information.

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