Holiday and Child Safety
Not Every Toy Is Safe
by Vic A. Lovell, QSSP
Busy right now? We all are. Please stop and give a minute for safety. Especially for our children.
With holidays, birthdays and other opportunities to give gifts to children, consider hidden dangers and safety hazards when choosing presents.
Toxic Metals and Chemicals in Toys
- Lead, cadmium and phthalates are dangerous to a child’s health.
- Avoid toys made of PVC plastic, which could contain toxic phthalates linked to developmental hazards.
- Read the labels of play cosmetics and avoid products with xylene, toluene, or dibutyl phthalate.
- Avoid children’s toy jewelry as it may contain high levels of cadmium or lead.
- Don’t let your child bite or mouth toys that are metal or plastic.
- Choose unpainted wooden or cloth toys instead.
- Keep mobiles out of the reach of children in cribs. Remove them before baby is five months old or able to pull herself/himself up.
- Remove knobs or beads from cords longer than one foot to prevent the cords from tangling into a dangerous loop.
- Small, powerful magnets used in building toys and magnetic jewelry can fall out and look like shiny candy. If a child swallows multiple magnets, the magnets attract each other in the stomach and intestines and will cause a serious injury. If a child swallows even one magnet, seek medical attention immediately.
- Buy big toys. Is the child under 3 years old? Do not buy small toys or toys with small parts. If a toy or toy part can pass through a toilet paper tube, don’t buy it.
- Check for Warning labels. Toys for a child between 3 and 6 will have a choke hazard warning.
- Stay alert with balloons and small balls. Small balls or ball-like shapes can completely block a child’s airway. Never give latex balloons to children younger than 8. Balloons and pieces of balloons are the leading choking hazard.
- Check ball size. Children under 6 should play with balls with a diameter greater than 2 inches.
Children’s ears are sensitive. If a toy seems too loud for your ears, it is probably too loud for your child. Take the batteries out of loud toys gifted by others.
Ride On Toys
If you plan to buy bicycles, skateboards, inline skates or scooters make them safer by also giving a helmet, knee pads, elbow pads, hi-vis apparel and wrist guards.
Food For Thought
It’s often small decisions – a candle left burning, a dry Christmas tree or child left alone even for a moment – that could have terrible life-changing consequences. When it comes to holiday dangers, the numbers are more startling than you might think:
- Each year, fires occurring during the holiday season claim the lives of more than 400 Americans, injure 1,650 more, and cause more than $990 million in damage.
- Candle-related fires are one of the most common holiday home hazards, averaging more than 12,000 each year, resulting in 136 deaths, more than 1,000 injuries and $450 million in direct property damage.
- About 5,800 people – two to three every hour – were treated in emergency departments for fall-related injuries sustained while decorating during the holiday seasons.
- Christmas trees, both natural and artificial, were the item first ignited in an estimated average of 240 reported home structure fires per year. These fires caused an estimated average of 13 civilian deaths, 27 civilian injuries and $16.7 million in direct property damage per year.
By taking simple steps, we have an opportunity to help change these statistics together. Committing a minute to safety can be as quick and easy as testing your smoke alarm, taking pillows out of the crib or simply using a cabinet lock. Imagine if every parent committed just one minute to safety every day? Thousands, perhaps millions, of injuries could be avoided. Parents today have a powerful opportunity to raise a safer generation of children, and it can all start by committing just one minute to safety.
Have a Safe and very Happy Holiday!