The Ultimate Guide to Holiday Toy Safety
In the classic holiday movie, A Christmas Story, the only gift Ralphie wants for Christmas is a BB gun. Not just any BB gun…an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle. Several adults warn Ralphie about the dangerous toy, telling him, “You’ll shoot your eye out!” But these warnings do not deter Ralphie. Come Christmas morning, Ralphie’s wish comes true. His parents bought him the BB gun. But, it doesn’t take long for Ralphie to realize the warnings may have been correct. While Ralphie is outside playing with his new toy, a BB ricochets and hits him in the face, knocking his glasses off. Ralphie believes he has indeed shot his eye out. He later realizes that his eye is okay, but his glasses broke. Scared his parents will take away his brand new toy, Ralphie lies to them about what happened.
As kids, we could all relate to Ralphie. You saw a toy and wanted it. You dreamed about it. You put it at the top of your list. The last thing on your mind was any potential harm the toy could cause. No matter how many adults told you, “that toy is dangerous,” you still had your heart set on that toy.
But now, you are grown. Your perspective has changed. You’re thinking less like Ralphie and more like his mother. If your child wants a dangerous toy for the holiday, you ask yourself: Is this toy safe? Should I buy this or not? How disappointed will my child be if he or she doesn’t receive this toy? You’re torn between wanting to protect your child and wanting to make him or her happy.
You have every right to be concerned about toy safety. After all, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were an estimated 256,700 toy-related injuries and nine toy-related deaths to children in 2013. So as a parent (or aunt, uncle, grandparent, cousin, or friend), you want to do everything in your power to help prevent toy-related dangers, right? Luckily, there are steps you can take to reduce your child’s risk of injury caused by a toy. Review the following holiday toy safety tips if you are planning on giving gifts to children.
Holiday Toy Safety Tips
1) Read the labels on the packaging. Common warnings include “Choking Hazard” and “Not Recommended for Children Under Three.” Other labels to look for include “Flame Resistant/Flame Retardant,” “Non-Toxic,” and “Washable/Hygienic materials.”
2) Pay attention to age recommendations and media ratings. This is especially important when shopping for younger children. Even the makers of Ralphie’s Red Ryder BB gun recommend the toy for ages 10 and older with adult supervision.
3) When shopping for infants and toddlers, buy toys that are larger than the child’s mouth. This will help prevent choking. If a toy is large enough but has smaller parts that could break off, do not give it to a young child. For example, a large stuffed bear may have beaded eyes that could fall off.
4) Choose well-made, sturdy toys. When toys break, they may expose hazards. Broken glass or plastic, loose parts, splintered wood, rust, exposed wires, and torn seams can be hazardous. Periodically check toys for damage and if you notice a broken toy, discard or repair it.
5) It is common for kids of all ages to play in the same vicinity, especially when you are spending time with family and friends during the holidays. This means that kids may have access to toys meant for different ages. Teach older children to keep certain toys away from younger children. Watch that younger kids aren’t playing with toys designed for older kids. Even if toddlers get upset after being told they can’t play with the same toys as their older sibling or cousin, it is better to play it safe.
6) Throw out any wrapping paper, ribbon, and packaging as soon as possible. We know that young children are sometimes more interested in the wrapping paper and packaging than the actual gift. Since infants and toddlers will put anything in their mouth, discard choking hazards like gift wrap and packaging right away. Avoid using ribbon when wrapping gifts for children- it is a strangulation hazard.
7) Are you planning to buy your child a bike or other ride-on toy? Don’t buy one that is too large for your child. We know it is tempting to buy a bike that your child “can grow into.” But a child may have a hard time controlling a larger bike, which puts them at an increased risk for falls. A bike or ride-on toy that is properly sized is safest. Be sure to buy a proper-fitting helmet as well.
8) Be aware of recalled toys. Look on safekids.org for a list of recalls.
9) Have hand-me-downs or other older toys? Although some of these toys may hold sentimental value, be careful before giving them to children. Older toys may not adhere to today’s safety standards. Toys like Ralphie’s BB gun followed more lenient rules compared to toys made today.
10) If you are using tools or screws to assemble a toy, do so in a safe area away from young children.
11) Don’t give infants and young children toys that have long strings or cords. They can get wrapped around the neck and cause strangulation.
12) Be wary of magnets. If a child swallows more than one magnet, they can fuse together inside the body and cause serious harm. Many toys and other household objects contain magnets. Check that the magnets are secure and do not fall out.
13) Do not buy electrical toys for children who cannot properly use them. Battery-operated toys are safer for younger children compared to toys that must be plugged into an electrical outlet.
14) Children’s ears are sensitive, so take precautions if you believe a toy is too loud. If necessary, cover noisy speakers with duct tape to muffle the sound. Toy guns can potentially damage hearing. Do not fire them closer than one foot to the ear and do not use them indoors. Shoot a toy gun outside like Ralphie does (but maybe wear some protective eyewear as well)!
15) Supervise children. It only takes a second for a child to sneak an object into their mouth.
16) When playtime is over, teach your child to put away toys. Objects left on the floor are tripping hazards to people of all ages.
Child Injury Lawyer
When you take precautions, you help reduce the risk of injury caused by toys. But not everything is in your control. Unfortunately, defective toys can cause injury. In the event that your child suffers a toy-related injury, contact a child injury lawyer at Kane & Silverman for an evaluation of your claim. We have offices in Philadelphia, PA and Marlton, NJ where you can speak with one of our experienced and compassionate attorneys.