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When it comes to choosing the perfect holiday gifts for the young ones on your shopping list, remembering some basic toy safety measures can help guide you to which surprises ultimately end up in colorfully wrapped packages.
“Consider the ages of the children you’re shopping for as well as their interests and skill levels,” said Gina Peek, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension consumer and housing specialist. “Every toy is not for every child.”
As a general rule, it is important to fully read the label for any toy you are thinking of purchasing as a gift for a child.
“You want to select age-appropriate gifts and the age range should be printed on the product label,” Peek said. “There will other important information listed, too, such as warnings about whether or not the toy is considered a choking hazard.”
You should avoid giving small balls and toys with small parts to children under age 3, and keep deflated balloons away from children 8 years old or younger. In fact, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, two of the leading causes of toy-related fatalities are choking or aspirating on toy parts.
“Deflated and broken balloons are choking hazards,” Peek said. “Playsets with magnets also posed a danger, especially for children age 6 or younger. They could be seriously hurt, or even die, if they swallow a magnet.”
If you decide to gift a riding toy such as a bike, scooter, skateboard or in-line skates, be sure to add the appropriate safety gear, including a helmet.
As another basic safety measure, remember to immediately discard plastic wrappings and another packaging once toys are opened. The packaging and plastic film on toys and other products can be a choking hazard.
Finally, be sure to designate at least one adult to oversee the charging of any batteries because chargers and adapters can represent burn hazards, especially for children.
“Carefully read the instructions and warnings that come with battery chargers,” Peek said. “Some devices don’t have mechanisms to prevent overcharging.”
Families can and should monitor toy recalls by visiting the CPSC website at www.cpsc.gov. To search product safety reports or to report a dangerous product or product-related injury, parents can go to www.SaferProducts.gov or call the CPSC hotline at 800-638-2772 or TTY 800-638-8270.