Each year more than 250,000 children are treated at hospitals for toy-related injuries. Most of these injuries affect children under the age of 15, and more than half injure the face; the majority of these injuries can be prevented. During Safe Toys and Gifts Month, Friends for Sight encourages parents to be aware of the toys, and the potential dangers of toys given to their children.
"Many toys have the potential to cause eye injuries," states American Academy of Ophthalmology spokesperson and ophthalmologist David G. Hunter, MD, Ph.D. "Being aware and thoughtful about what you are putting in your children's hands is the best preventative medicine...choose toys that are appropriate for their child's age and abilities, as well s the parent's willingness to supervise use of the toys."
This holiday season (and beyond), please consider the following guidelines for choosing safe toys for all ages:
- Inspect all toys before purchasing. Avoid those that shoot or include parts that fly off. The toy should have no sharp edges or points and should be sturdy enough to withstand impact without breaking, being crushed, or being pulled apart easily.
- When purchasing toys for children with special needs try to: Choose toys that may appeal to different senses such as sound, movement, and texture; consider interactive toys to allow the child to play with others; and think about the size of the toy and the position a child would need to be in to play with it.
- Be diligent about inspecting toys your child has received. Check them for age, skill level, and developmental appropriateness before allowing them to be played with.
- Look for labels that assure you the toys have passed a safety inspection – “ATSM” means the toy has met the American Society for Testing and Materials standards.
- Gifts of sports equipment should always be accompanied by protective gear (give a helmet with the skateboard)
- Keep kids safe from lead in toys by: Educating yourself about lead exposure from toys, symptoms of lead poisoning, and what kinds of toys have been recalled; being aware that old toys may be more likely to contain lead in the paint; having your children wash their hands frequently and calling your doctor if you suspect your child has been exposed to lead. Consult the last two websites listed below for more information.
- Do NOT give toys with small parts (including magnets and “button” batteries which can cause serious injury or death if ingested) to young children as they tend to put things in their mouths, increasing the risk of choking. If the piece can fit inside a toilet paper roll, it is not appropriate for kids under age three.
- Do NOT give toys with ropes and cords or heating elements
- Do NOT give crayons and markers unless they are labeled “nontoxic”.
By taking proper precautions, whether providing age-appropriate toys or proper protective eyewear, you can protect your child from injury. However, if your child should sustain an eye injury DO NOT allow child to rub or touch the eye, DO NOT apply medication to the eye, and DO NOT attempt to remove any debris from the eye. If the eye injury is caused by a chemical in the eye, flush the eye with water. For all eye injuries seek medical attention immediately.
We all want our children to be happy and healthy, and we want to protect them from harm. We can best achieve this goal by getting our children yearly wellness check-ups and eye examinations before school, as well as by providing safe toys, environments, and adult supervision.