December is National Safe Toys and Gifts Month
December is “Safe Toys and Gifts Month” as a means to remind us to be careful when making our toy and gift choices. The safety and age appropriateness of gifts isn’t always uppermost in the gift purchaser’s mind though, possibly because we trust that the retailer is providing items that are already certified as safe and also because sometimes we’re not totally clued into the needs or age specific particulars of the gift recipients. Read more for quick tips to help avoid unsafe presents–both receiving or giving.
Safety tips to keep in mind this holiday season:
Children can choke or suffocate on deflated or broken balloons. Keep deflated balloons away from children younger than eight years old. Discard broken balloons immediately.
Small balls and other toys with small parts
For children younger than age three, avoid toys with small parts, which can cause choking.
Scooters and other riding toys
Riding toys, skateboards and in-line skates go fast, and falls could be deadly. Helmets and safety gear should be worn properly at all times and they should be sized to fit.
High-powered magnet sets are dangerous and should be kept away from children. Whether marketed for children or adults, building and play sets with small magnets should also be kept away from small children.
Once gifts are open:
- Immediately discard plastic wrapping or other toy packaging before the wrapping and packaging become dangerous play things.
- Keep toys appropriate for older children away from younger siblings.
- Battery charging should be supervised by adults. Chargers and adapters can pose thermal burn hazards to young children. Pay attention to instructions and warnings on battery chargers. Some chargers lack any mechanism to prevent overcharging.
Toy Safety Guides
The CPSC provides free safety alerts, guides, posters, brochures, handbooks and other materials which you can use to help spread consumer product safety information in your community.
6 Important Quick Tips
- Buy age appropriate toys. Children soon let you know if you’ve purchased them a toy that’s below their age group and most shoppers take great care to avoid such a slip-up. Yet, strangely we’re prone to thinking that purchasing toys that are meant for an older age group is fine, as if somehow it’s suggesting that the child in question is smarter than their age group already, or they’ll “grow into it”. The problem is that toys are age graded for safety reasons as much as for avoiding frustration and undesirability. Many toys aimed at older children contain small pieces which could be swallowed by a younger child. Toys for older children can also contain items that require responsible handling
- Be aware of what’s not considered safe this season. It’s a really good idea to keep an eye on a consumer watchdog site to find out which toys have been recalled recently so that you can avoid buying them. Many consumer groups and government entities will send free email updates to your in-box alerting you to recalls and it only takes a few minutes to glance through them.
- Read the warnings and safety precautions accompanying the toy. These will give you a good idea of suitability and safety issues for the child in question. This requires some contextual thinking on your behalf, given your knowledge of the child; for example, the warning may indicate to you that a child who is quiet and still will use the toy sensibly, while a child who is restless, always taking things apart and is prone to throwing things might misuse the toy.
- Inspect all gifts as children open them. if the gift(s) are from someone outside the family, for example a neighbor or schoolmate, it’s a good idea to inspect the gift quickly to ensure that it’s safe to play with. If you discover that it isn’t, distract your child with another gift and try to either remedy the unsafe aspect (such as removing small pieces) or quickly replacing it with something else more suitable.
- Take allergies and food or chemical sensitivities into account when purchasing gifts for any age group. Both children and adults can be allergic or highly sensitive to a range of food gifts, especially such food as nuts, MSG infused food, chocolate, and so forth. Ask them if you don’t already know, and avoid purchasing such food items as gifts. Other gift items that can cause allergies or sensitivities include perfumes, scented products, and essential oils.
- Take time to explain how to use the toy or gift to a child or to anyone who needs instruction. If your kid is aware how to use the toy properly and is aware of how easily it can be broken or ruined, then they are alerted to taking care of it in advance.