Play It Safe
Each year, more than 10,000 kids get hurt by their toys. Some are hurt badly. Some even die. These injuries don't have to happen. Here are a few simple things you can do to make sure they don't.
Pay Attention To Age Labeling
Toys are often labeled according to the ages of children who can use them safely. For instance, "For Ages Three and Over" means that the toy is likely to have small parts on which young children can choke, sharp points or strings or elastic that can injure kids under three. It doesn't always mean that the toy is too advanced for your bright two-year-old.
Check Out Crib Toys
Kids can get tangled up and even have their breathing cut off by the strings of toys that are draped across a crib. Any toys with strings or elastic can be hazardous to young children.
Be Tough On A Toy Before Your Child Is
Small children have amazing skills in taking things apart.
Make sure rattles are strong enough so they won't come apart.
Test buttons, bells and stuffed-animal eyes to make sure they won't pull off.
Squeeze toys should not have squeakers or whistles that can be pulled out.
Watch For Sharp Edges and Points
Kids love their toys. But they also love to throw them and leave them where a child can fall on them. Avoid toys with glass or easily breakable plastic. They can become instant weapons.
Bike Helmets - Don't Leave Home Without One
Bikes are toys too. In fact, they are a major source of childhood injuries. A child old enough to ride needs a helmet. Buy a helmet to go with any bike you buy. Kids who ride along with you in bike seats should also wear helmets.
Darts, Lawn Darts, Projectiles, Air Rifles....and Guns
These are so dangerous you should not even think of allowing them anywhere near kids.
The Federal Government has established a size for safe toys for kids under three. A small part should be at least 1-1/4" in diameter and 2-1/4" inches long. Any parts smaller than these measurements are a potential choking hazard.
When you shop for a toy, make sure it has no parts smaller than these dimensions. Inexpensive, clear plastic tubes that parents can use to test small parts are available from stores specializing in children's toys and furnishings.
A lid that can fall freely when opened is dangerous. Make sure toy chests have durable lid supports that hold the lid open in any position and prevent it from slamming down on the back of a youngster's head or neck.
No toy chest should have a latch that might trap a child inside the chest. It should have ventilation holes for fresh air, just in case a curious toddler does climb inside.
Take crib gyms down as soon as a child is able to get up onto hands and knees. Older babies who can move around can injure their necks on the gym bar.
Some Special Problems
Most people don't think of balloons as unsafe toys. But small children can easily choke on pieces of popped balloons or on uninflated ones.
Kids who are having fun on their trikes and other riding toys may veer into the street. Thousands of kids are injured every year when they ride their toys into traffic.
Avoid them altogether for younger children. They should be discouraged from playing with or near electricity.
Never leave a child unattended, even for a moment, around a bathtub, swimming pool, or shallow-water play pool. Drownings can happen in a matter of seconds.
In The Community
Yard sales can be great places to pick up inexpensive toys. But a toy that can hurt a child is no bargain.
Avoid broken toys which may have sharp edges and points that weren't there when the toys were new. Used strollers, playpens, car seats, walkers and cribs may have missing parts or dangerously loose hardware.
Stay away from old-style baby gates and corrals with diamond-shaped openings which can trap a child's neck.
Watch out for small parts that pull off. Particularly avoid used or hand-me-down toys for children under three. Lots of older toys were made before there were safety standards.
This article is adapted from a brochure available from the Association of Trial Lawyers of America. You can view the brochure and other helpful items in the Publications section of the Web site at www.atlanet.com.
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Dallas TX 75209
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