Child Care Corner: Toy safety tips to remember when shopping for holiday gifts

By: JANE B. JONES

LSU AgCenter Extension Agent

The holidays are here and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has its list of hazardous toys.

Parents and gift buyers are encouraged to check it twice. CPSC issued its annual holiday safety messages, joined by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and safe Kids Worldwide, to remind adults to think safety when making holiday purchases.

For 2007, the Commission has reports of 18 toy-related deaths and approximately 170, 100 hospital emergency-room treated toy-related injuries to children under 15. Most of the deaths were associated with airway obstruction from small toys, drowning or motor vehicle accidents during play. Most of the injuries were cuts and abrasions with the head and face being the most frequently affected.

The top five toy hazards are as follows:

•Scooters and other riding toys

•Small balls and other toys with small parts

•Balloons (Un-inflated or broken balloons can cause choking.)

•Magnets (Found in building and play sets)

•Chargers and adapters (They can cause thermal burns.)

Once the gifts are open, remember to immediately discard plastic wrappings on toys before they become dangerous play things. Keep toys appropriate for older children away from younger siblings. Pay attention to instructions and warnings on battery chargers. Some chargers lack any device to prevent overcharging.

With the increased popularity of second-hand stores and on-line vendors, gift-givers should be especially careful to prevent the sale or purchase of hazardous products that have been recalled, or do not meet current safety standards. The recall status of second-hand toys can be checked at www.cpsc.gov. Buyers should make sure their gifts do not include any of the recalled toys or children’s products on CPSC’s website.

Also, at this website, consumers can keep up-to-date on dangerous products by signing up to have recall announcements sent directly to their e-mail account. Choose to receive all recall announcements or children’s product recalls only. Consumers also can call CPSC’s toll-free hotline at 1-800-638-CPSC. For information on all recalls, visit www.recalls.gov.

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