Children’s toys should bring them joy and not a trip to the emergency room. However, U.S. emergency departments treated over 3 million children for toy related injuries from 1999 to 2011.
Despite increased regulation during that time, toy related injuries rose by 40 percent according to research from Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Furthermore, in 2011 U.S. hospitals treated a child for a toy related injury every 3 minutes.
Here are eight dangers parents should watch out for:
1. Small balls and toy parts are choking hazards. Keep them away from children age three and younger. Parents must also check toys for parts that might break off and become choking hazards.
2. Small magnets have the potential to cause serious internal injuries if swallowed. The CPSC recalled some brands of magnets, but many remain in the market. Toys such as jewelry and building kits often contain small magnets. In addition, novelty items and desktop toys for adults may have small magnets. Playing with magnets is not limited to young children. Teenagers may use magnets to simulate a facial piercing.
3. Balloons are also a choking hazard particularly if broken or deflated. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that only children age 8 and above be allowed to play with balloons. Last year a 7-year-old girl died after choking on a balloon.
4. Smallbutton like batteries are another choking hazard. In addition to toys, these batteries are in watches, calculators, cameras, hearing aids and other products. Store these items and the batteries away from children.
5. Any toy that shoots an object can potentially cause an eye injury. “People may view toy versions of bows and arrows as harmless, but even foam or plastic projectiles can potentially cause serious damage to a child’s eye if used at close range,” said Jane Edmond, M.D., a clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
6. Parents should also watch out for toys such as fishing poles, swords and other toys that could hit another person in the eye.
7. Ribbons, strings, straps and cords on toys are strangulation hazards for young children. The CPSC recommends that parents remove these objects from toys before giving the toys to young children.
Injuries from Ride On Toys
8. Falls and collisions from ride on toys such as scooters cause serious head injuries. The best protection is a helmet. “I tell parents if there were three things you could do to prevent an injury to a child riding a scooter they would be ‘wear a helmet, wear a helmet, wear a helmet,'” said Dr Gary Smith. “It is very important that children wear helmets; an injury to the brain can be life-long and devastating, which is why it’s important to prevent that injury in the first place.”