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Play it Safe with Holidays Toys

Salem Creekside Newsletter - December 2015

Play it Safe with Holidays Toys

Every parent has lamented a noisy children's toy received as a gift from a fun-loving (yet insensitive) relative. While it may have been a cheery plaything, the item's safety may not have been considered – a high decibel level can subject a child to hearing loss. If you are buying toys as gifts, or just want to make sure the toys and games your child receives this holiday season are safe, there are a few main guidelines, and some, like noise level, that may be new to you.

Here is a visual check of toys and their packaging that can provide general safety information to you as a consumer.

  • Items should be free of sharp edges or loose parts that can fall off.
  • Toys made of fabric should be flame retardant or flame resistant; and washable. This information is usually on the tag, which should be left on for future reference and washing instructions.
  • Painted toys should be lead-free; imported toys are not subject to U.S. standards and can often contain lead paint or plastic.
  • Art materials should be labeled as nontoxic.
  • Battery compartments should be secured with screws.

Toys are usually marked with a suggested age range, which should be considered when choosing a gift. If you receive a gift for your child that is not age appropriate, do not be tempted to open it. Instead, put the toy away and save it for when the child reaches a good age to play with the toy.  It will be like a second Christmas!

Toys with small parts are never appropriate for infants and toddlers, as they present a choking hazard. But how small is too small? A small parts tester is a tube-like device about the size of a child's windpipe that can be used to determine if a toy is safe for a small child. If a toy or part of the toy fits into the tube, it can choke a child. In the absence of an official tester, a toilet paper roll can be used.

Magnets present a real – and largely overlooked – danger. Unlike foreign bodies that can pass through the intestine with relative ease, magnets can attract each other along their way, even through the walls of the intestine. Magnets can cause blockage, punctures or lack of blood flow in the lining of the intestine, resulting in serious damage or emergency surgery. This applies to people of all ages!