As a parent, one of your top priorities is keeping your children safe from harm. While you can’t protect them from every potential danger, you can take steps to reduce their risk of injury, especially when it comes to the toys they play with. Dangerous or defective toys are responsible for thousands of injuries to children every year. By being an informed and proactive parent, you can help prevent many common toy-related accidents.
Check Age Recommendations and Warning Labels
The first line of defense is to pay close attention to age recommendations and warning labels on toys. Age guidelines are there for a reason – certain toys have small parts that can pose a choking hazard for babies and toddlers. Make sure any toy you purchase is age-appropriate for your child. Also, look for warning labels that indicate potential dangers such as sharp edges or small parts. If a toy will be used by children of varying ages, always defer to the age guideline for the youngest child.
Inspect New Toys Thoroughly
When buying a new toy, inspect it carefully before allowing your child to play with it. Check for any sharp edges or points, loose small parts, strings longer than 12 inches, exposed screws or splinters. Also, watch out for potential strangulation hazards like cords, ribbons, or drawstrings. Avoid any toys with small enough parts to fit inside a toilet paper roll, which could become lodged in a child’s throat. Test battery compartments to ensure they are secured. Return or discard any toys that fail these inspections.
If you buy toys from overseas make sure to do the above steps carefully. Not every country follows the same safety procedures as those in the United States and the cheaper price isn’t worth risking your child’s health.
Supervise Play Time
No matter how diligent you are about selecting safe toys, accidents can still happen. The best way to prevent injury is close supervision during play time. Watch your children carefully when they play with ride-on toys in case of potential collisions and falls. Your child’s daycare should do the same. Ensure toys with projectiles are not aimed at people, animals, or fragile objects. Pay particular attention anytime younger children play with toys owned by older children, as these likely have smaller parts and may not be age appropriate. Even toys made for older kids can break and create a choking hazard. Stay engaged and look for potential dangers.
Store Toys Properly
Safe storage of toys when not in use is also important. Keep any toys with sharp points or edges in containers separate from other toys to prevent cuts. Store ride-on toys or wheeled/rolling toys near the bottom of toy boxes and shelves to avoid injuries from falling objects. Consider storing toys meant for older kids completely out of reach of babies and younger siblings. Proper organization and storage will minimize opportunities for injuries and accidents.
Conduct Regular Toy Inspections and Cleaning
Over time, wear and tear can cause a once safe toy to become hazardous. Regularly inspect toys your child plays with often and discard or repair any with broken parts, loose parts or sharp edges. Toys with batteries should be checked to ensure the battery compartments are still secure. Conduct inspections when rotating seasonal toys as well. Cleaning toys is also wise. Use disinfectant wipes or sprays designed for children’s toys to reduce the spread of illness and germs.
Monitor Recalls and Remove Recalled Toys
Despite regulations and safety standards, some dangerous toys still end up on store shelves and in homes. When you hear about toy recalls, check if you have the toy in question and immediately remove it if so. Sign up for email alerts from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to stay on top of recalls. Stop using recalled toys until replacements or repair kits are obtained. In some cases, you may be asked to take recalled toys to authorized collection sites for proper disposal. Stay vigilant with recalls to prevent injuries.
Learn First Aid for Toy-Related Injuries
Even when taking precautions, accidents involving toys can still happen. Arm yourself by learning some basic first aid specifically for toy-related injuries so you can respond quickly and properly. Know what to do if a toy part becomes lodged in the nose, ear or throat. Learn how to treat cuts and puncture wounds from sharp toy edges. Acquire the supplies you may need such as bandages, antibiotic ointment, tweezers, tape, and antiseptic wipes. Take a first aid class focused on child injuries for more thorough preparation.
Seek Medical Care for Serious Injuries
While you can treat minor cuts and bruises at home, some toy-related injuries require professional medical care. Seek immediate emergency care if a child stops breathing due to a blocked airway, loses consciousness or has seizure-like activity after an accident involving a toy. Any wounds that won’t stop bleeding, appear infected, or have foreign material embedded in them also warrant medical attention. For less severe but still concerning injuries, call your pediatrician for guidance. Don’t hesitate to get expert medical care when needed.
Consult an Attorney If Negligence is Suspected
While some accidents are unavoidable, others may be caused by toy defects or negligence on the part of manufacturers, retailers or others. If your child sustains an injury that appears to be the result of a dangerous toy, consult with a personal injury attorney here at the Mass Injury Group. Our attorneys can investigate to determine if negligence played a role and advise you on legal options for seeking compensation. This compensation could be used for medical bills, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of daily activities. Getting help ensures accountability and improves safety.
The joy and benefits of play are only possible when toys are safe. While no strategy is 100% effective, staying vigilant about toy hazards, supervising playtime, and learning first aid will help keep your child’s playtime fun rather than dangerous. Paying close attention and taking preventative measures goes a long way in preventing tragic toy-related injuries.
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