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December 21, 2013

Remember ages, skills, interests when choosing toys

Ada — As you scour stores and the Internet hunting for items on kids’ holiday wish lists, toy safety guidelines can help you make decisions about what ends up in a neatly wrapped box with a colorful bow on top.

While you’re out shopping, remember the ages of the children on your list as well as their interests and skill levels.  All toys are not for all children.

According to a 2012 U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) report, about 193,200 children younger than 15 were treated in emergency rooms for toy related injuries in 2011.

Toys in the nonmotorized scooter category were associated with the most injuries for children under 15. Injuries often involved cuts and bruises to the face and head. The CPSC noted in many of the cases in which an injury occurred, the toys were associated with, but not necessarily the cause of, the incident.

Balloons, magnets and small balls and other toys with little parts can pose dangers to young kids.

Deflated and broken balloons can be a choking hazard, especially for kids younger than 8. The same goes for play sets with magnets. Kids, particularly those age 6 or younger, could be seriously hurt, or even die, if they swallow a magnet.

Children age 3 or younger could choke on small balls or toys with small parts.

Meanwhile, when it comes to riding scooters and other riding toys such as skateboards and in-line skates, helmets and safety gear should be sized to fit and worn properly.

Beyond those basic safety measures, immediately discarding plastic wrappings and other packaging around toys once they are opened.

According to a CPSC safety alert, the plastic film on toys and other products can be a choking hazard.

The plastic is generally used to keep mirrors and other surfaces from getting scratched in shipping. Just be sure to inspect the toy then remove the film before letting the kids enjoy the gift. It’s also ideal to keep older kids’ toys away from younger children.

Finally, adults should oversee the charging of batteries because chargers and adapters can pose thermal burn hazards to kids.

Read the instructions and warnings that come with battery chargers. Some chargers don’t have mechanisms to prevent overcharging.

Families can and should monitor toy recalls by visiting the CPSC website at www.cpsc.gov. Also, 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 (301-595-7054 for teletypewriter for the hearing and speech impaired).

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