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December: Safe Toys and Celebrate Wisely Month

As a parent of a young child, I know all too well the trials of the holiday season. First of all is the challenge of getting my kids to appreciate giving as much as receiving. And, despite the best intentions of friends and family, I need to be diligent in inspecting that all toys are safe and appropriate.

I remember the movie “A Christmas Story,” where Ralphie sets out to convince the world that a Red Ryder BB gun is the perfect gift. “You’ll shoot your eye out!” was the response he got from his parents, teacher and even good ol’ Santa Claus. It’s one of the more hilarious and memorable quotes from this Christmas classic because we’ve all heard it repeatedly during our childhood. But, unfortunately, it comes true for too many people.

It’s hard to resist indulging your child’s overwhelming desire for his or her most wished for gift, especially during the holiday season, but sometimes you have to for their safety. Toys and sporting equipment are responsible for thousands of eye injuries to children every year. But an amazing 90 percent of these injuries were preventable.

In 2015, the Consumer Product Safety Commission reported 254,200 toy-related injuries treated in hospital emergency rooms. Most of these involved lacerations, contusions or abrasions (41%) and most affected the head and face area (45%). In response to this problem that poses such a significant risk to our children’s eyesight, Prevent Blindness America has declared December “Safe Toys and Gifts Month”.
Prevent Blindness America recommends the following guidelines when purchasing gifts:

  •     Only buy toys meant for the child’s age and maturity level
  •     Purchase toys that meet the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards
  •     Read all warnings and instructions on the box
  •     Avoid purchasing toys with sharp or rigid points, spikes, rods or dangerous edges
  •     Buy toys that will withstand impact and not break into dangerous shards
  •     Avoid toys that shoot or include parts that fly off

They also recommend the following guidelines when your children are at play:

  •     Keep an eye on your children while they play
  •     Keep young children away from toys meant for older children
  •     Supervise children’s art projects (particularly those involving glue and scissors)
  •     Have children wear the right protective eyewear when playing with toys
  •     Store toys properly to prevent slips and falls
  •     Fix or throw away broken toys

By following these simple guidelines, we can substantially reduce the number of toy-related injuries and make sure that this is a happy, festive holiday season with less trips to the emergency room.